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Run Time: 12 min Format: 720p HD
This documentary shares the stories of four DREAMers, undocumented youth who immigrated to the United States as children. It outlines their struggles to shape their identity, and it traces the legislative and legal obstacles that burden their pursuit of citizenship. By highlighting these narratives, the documentary stresses the advocacy still needed to inspire immigration reform.
American is an official selection at the Chicago International Social Change Film Festival (Sept. 27-29, 2013)
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American explores the experience of DREAMers, undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, in a 12-minute short documentary. Produced and directed by two Stanford Law students, Tiffany Yang and Jennifer Gonzalez, it was shot in 730p HD video in San Francisco, CA.
The documentary was born from Yang’s desire to create a more inclusive narrative surrounding undocumented youth. Gonzalez, a third-year student at the time, was leading the Stanford Law and Visual Media Project and was excited to join a project that combined her passion for using visual media as an advocacy tool and her interest in immigration law and reform.
The filmmakers’ desire was to create four entwining narratives that painted a picture of the struggles, pain, inspirations and hope that result from an "undocumented" immigrant status. Yang and Gonzalez approached filming with three goals in mind: challenging the presumptions we have about what constitutes “American” identity; challenging the strictly Latino racialization of undocumented immigrants that we see in today's media; and challenging the "straight A" student image that we have created for what constitutes a "legitimate" DREAMer. The filmmakers hope American authentically portrays individuals who are whole and complete despite—or perhaps because of—their immigrant status.
Each of the featured participants in the film have gone public about their undocumented status and are active advocates for the rights of undocumented immigrants and immigration reform. Prior to filming, each participant had recently received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Although DACA is not a path to citizenship, it has allowed each of these exception young people to continue to pursue their own American dreams without the constant fear of deportation. They continue to advocate for reforms that will ensure that their families and others like them will eventually have a legal path to citizenship in the country they call home.
Tiffany Yang is the proud daughter of Korean immigrants and a second-year J.D. candidate at Stanford Law School. She is originally from St. Louis, Missouri and graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in Comparative Literature. Prior to law school, Yang provided direct service in housing and family law to underserved communities and also taught English and worked with North Korean refugees as a Fulbright grantee in South Korea. At Stanford Law School, Yang works with the Three Strikes Project, leads the Stanford Law and Visual Media Project, co-founded the Stanford Critical Law Society, and participates in the Deferred Action for Immigrant Youth project. She spent last summer working with Planned Parenthood's Litigation & Law department and is excited to participate in the Immigrants' Rights Clinic this fall.
Jennifer Gonzalez graduated from Stanford Law School in 2013, and is awaiting admittance to the California bar. Her interest in film and media began as a love of literature and storytelling. As an undergraduate and, later, graduate student in Brigham Young University’s English department, she sought out opportunities to explore film and media through the lens of literature, rhetorical theory and communications and argumentation. As a law student at Stanford, Gonzalez continuing to explore opportunities to marry storytelling and creativity with law and advocacy, taking over leadership of the Law and Visual Media Project and working on projects about California’s “Three Strikes” law and the death penalty.
Between completing her M.A. and beginning law school, Gonzalez spent six years in Washington, D.C., teaching professional writing at the University of Maryland, College Park, and working as a communications and training consultant at the National Institutes of Health and U.S. Department of Justice. She is the granddaughter of immigrants from Germany and Mexico and is committed to using her talents and training to support immigrants’ rights and advocate for legal reforms that honor the legacy of hard work and hope embodied by her family.