You’re invited to American Dream Films Screening/ Upstate Films Rhinebeck/Light Nosh
NEW DOC-IN-PROGRESS, American Nightmare/American Dream that EXPLORES WOMEN REALIZING THEIR OWN AMERICAN DREAM THROUGH EDUCATION, hosts Upstate Films Rhinebeck event. American Nightmare/American Dream is a documentary that explores the interwoven stories of three women who believed that a college education could be their ticket out of poverty and their entré to their own American Dream.
A little background: This documentary is partially a response to two astounding realities. Since Bill Clinton’s “end of welfare as we know it” and the inauguration of Mayor Giuliani’s punishing welfare regulations, over 23,000 students have been forced out of the City University of New York (CUNY). In contrast to this unfortunate truth, a Ford Foundation Report states that after getting a four year college degree, 90% of women formerly on welfare no longer need public assistance.
American Nightmare/American Dream tells the story of three women who grew up in poverty and decided that a college degree would be their entre to their own American Dream. Through this process they shed their shame about being poor and become organizers and community leaders, advocating for themselves and others.
Punishing policies and welfare laws did everything to impede these women, forcing them into dead-end manual labor jobs, threatening to cut off the benefits they used to make ends meet, as well as “sanctioning” or ending their families’ benefits. To survive and maintain their grades, the three made it through rough years of non-stop work – for two of them that included caring for small children. But they survived and were able to prosper.
The film will follow the women through the nightmare of New York City’s challenging welfare rules and regulations. Amidst these struggles, the women strive to obtain a 4-year degree and navigate post-graduation life. UAlbany PhD graduate, Hirah Mir is a woman who openly shares her struggles with the welfare system in order to get her bachelor’s at Hunter. Hirah’s vocalizations of her experiences are admired by her students. Through the documentation of Hirah’s classes and interviews with students, we’ll see how Hirah’s teaching alters the perceptions of young minds, broadening their grasp of how the American dream really works.
Leyla Martinez grew up and still lives in the Bronx. After her son’s father was sent to prison she turned to illicit means to support them and was herself imprisoned. There she made up her mind to get a college education. She fought the welfare bureaucracy and eviction and in 2018 that dream became a reality when she graduated with a BA in Human Rights from Columbia University.
She now heads Beyond the Box, an organization for higher education for other formerly incarcerated people. Leyla just won a Soros Justice Fellowship for her work.
Diana Devlin,former NYC filmmaker who now lives in Rhinebeck, is a member of NYWIFT and on the Board of UPWIFT; a former member of NATAS, NY Chapter and served five years as an Emmy judge, she also served six years on the Board of the NY Film/Video Council; there she created the International Short DocFest at MoMA; she was a NYFA Artist-in-Residence, guest lectured on the documentary at Manhattanville College where she created and programmed a Social Justice Film Festival with inaugural guests Ron Howard and Christine Choy. Her other documentaries were Peru’s Shining Path, Dreams & Wishes, and Chesterwood.
November 3, 2019 11:30 am at Upstate Films in Rhinebeck