Two things I don’t watch a lot of are documentaries and short films. Recently I screened a film that falls into each category – too bad it wasn’t that great of a representation of either.
Premiering this past April on MSNBC (though I can’t say I remember any promos for it), The Dream is Now takes a look at the issue of Immigration reform in the US. Particularly the issue of undocumented minors living in America, and The Dream Act that would allow some of them the opportunity to become legal citizens. The short film (31 min) has been screening at college campuses and other locations across the country in an attempt to raise awareness of the issue and support for the cause.
It’s an important issue, no doubt, but this film by Davis Guggenheim (The excellent Waiting for Superman) strays far from documentary territory into propaganda. It is not a documentation of the issue, but a persuasive piece with an obvious slant. To me, a valid documentary explores all facets – or at least opposing sides – of an issue, especially one as divisive as this. Failing that, it becomes propaganda with an agenda other than informational. The Dream is Now barely mentions the opposing side here, painting anyone against The Dream Act as a comically twisted villain with no sympathy for humanity. Every undocumented youth featured is an exemplary human being who is, actually, better than most “legitimate” Americans.
I don’t mean to sound unsympathetic, but not once is it brought up that these people did in fact enter the country illegally and are continuing to do so. This is, of course, the bigger issue at hand, and one that needs to be addressed as well, but at the moment, that is the truth. Even if they are all wonderful people, they are still breaking the law, and the movie never even gives that a passing thought. It gives a voice to some wonderful young people who are in very unfortunate situations, but that’s it. It doesn’t examine any possible negative sides to anything other than passing The Dream Act.
As propaganda pieces go, this is particularly well done, and will surely stir some sort of emotion, opinion, and possibly even action in you. It’s structured in easy to follow bits, featuring carefully chosen stories. If nothing else, it will probably get a conversation going, which isn’t a bad thing. Just don’t expect this film to do much beyond trying to sell its point of view.
Mrs. Hamster says:
“I realize it’s sad and all for those people and their situation, but the movie was way too preachy.”
My Rating: Two out of Five Hats
The Dream is Now is currently available streaming on Youtube: