American Dream

For – ReelHeart International Film and Screenplay Festival, Canada
Based on – ‘American Dream’- USA Running time – 1hr19min (Documentary)
Directed by Joel N Clark

Those who leave
Those who remain
Together, bound by our breaths
We are
In our own homes.
We are

American Dream one of the primary documentaries based on the post-Trump era, draws a raw, organic look into the journeys of undocumented citizens and their dangerous crossing attempts through Texas from the Mexico border. Now, when we are on the move, our ancient lands have become corrupt. They hold the burden of the greatness of their history and their sacred texts. More than that, however, they are now under the rule of organized gangs and criminal elites.
Directed by award-winning director Joel N Clark, American Dream portrays lives of realistic immigrants and the unrealistic immigration procedures at the Texas-Mexico Border. America, which has been nourished and flourished by so many different cultures and traditions, is a refuge for many immigrants coming via Mexican borders. American Dream is a cathartic yet sublime depiction of the universal problem of migrations, its reasons, effects, and results.

Without wasting a single minute on establishing the narrative, the film opens directly to the point and takes us to various regions of Latin America such as Honduras, El Salvador And MexicoIt introduces us to people on the verge of crossing border as well as those who successfully crossed the border but are now categorized as “Undocumented.”

The film is about four different lives with one dream — to reach America; for the hope of a better future, a better life for themselves as well as their family.

As the film unfolds, it reveals the major problem with migration, which is not just economic crises, but also the extreme violence and extortion tactics of criminal gangs. El Salvador is commonly known as the murder capital of the world, where 20 per cent of its population has migrated to America due to the high rate of crime and violence. Meanwhile, the family members of those undocumented immigrants seek the arms of the children, of their mothers, to hold and hug them.

What kind of world we have built where we have torn families apart? Where earning basic necessities becomes the ultimate goal of life. Clark also follows the Journey of Sonja, a 7-month pregnant woman. All she wants is for her child to be born in America.

American Dream is shot BEAUTIFULLY/CAREFULLY/ASSIDUOUSLY with interesting perspectives and is edited proficiently. It juxtaposes all the different storylines that cumulate to one goal: the American Dream.

Sometimes it feels as if the filmmaker romanticizes America and its name. But he also explores a narrative of a police officer in Texas, who was once an immigrant himself, and is now living a better life with his family as well as serving the country. In totality, the journey is hard. Life is not easy but we can’t afford to stop. Yomi, a Mexican immigrant, who is living in Austin, Texas as an undocumented migrant compiles her journey in two sentences:“All I see is walls around me. All we do is work and sleep.”
This film makes you a slightly better human. It sensitizes you with journeys and fears of some migrant people. You may be surprised to find that these migrants are, in fact,very similar to you. We are on a journey and this world is a playground. Let’s celebrate our souls and vulnerabilities of being on this beautiful, and one and only planet.

Gursimran Datla @gursimrandatla

How lonely cities make us! And how foolish too! (English)

Based on – Turkish Film ‘Distant’ (Uzak) Release date – 2002. Running Time – 1hr50min (Drama)

Directed by – Nuri Bilge Ceylan.

Those were days of winter. There was a lot of snow in Istanbul. At the last moment of the night, Mehmut (magnificently played by Muzaffer Özdemir) sat in his 2-seater car, looking towards his apartment on the third floor of his building. The light in his apartment was on. The reason? Yusuf (played by Mehmet Emin) was on his way  from his native village to visit Mehmaut, and to stay with him for a few days. The factory in Yusuf’s village had closed due to the financial crisis. First his father, then himself and 1000 other people were unemployed. Now Yusuf is in the city, searching for a job — like more than half of the world’s population.

Yusuf comes to Istanbul to find work on a ship. Mehmut is a photographer by profession. When Mehmut is sitting in the car looking at his apartment, it’s as if he’s looking at someone else’s house, not his own. As if, his house was not his own for that moment. No one can feel the sorrow of losing personal space than a single man, in his mid-age, and that too an artist. Now when most of us are living in cities, this personal space  becomes our home. We decorate this home according to our own choices, with our own comforts in mind. Cities first let us alone, then give us so much that we can create our personal space. But by creating that personal space, we enjoy the selfishness of the space, which in civilized language is called loneliness.

There are many such people around us. Those who finish the day’s work quickly and like to return to their home in the evening. For such a single person, there may not be any place in history; but in many arts. The idea of a lonely human is of great interest to many filmmakers and artists. This idea of being alone arrives as soon as a man is born. As he grows up, he does many things to get rid of it. For example, marriage, children, riots, violence, politics, sex, debates orpicketing.

Distant is one of the earliest films of Turkish film director and photographer Nuri Bilge Ceylan, which he made in 2002. Noori has a deep impression of Tarkovsky’s cinema. Noori’s unmatched landscape cinematography is an old-fashioned picture of old Istanbul and the eastern tradition, where cities now dominate the village. As a filmmaker, Nuri has this complaint from the entire Arab society. According to him,we have become secluded.

Cities gave birth to lonely humans. Cities have created unemployed groups. This film is the best image of mental and physical distance in homes. This film is so relevant in these contemporary times when we are living in such homes. This film challenges our relationship with our own space.  The best part of this film is that it is not entertaining. This film is like a human body walking alone in the snowy winters. This film may seem boring like a lonely person. The film does not teach you, preach to you or give you any conclusion. The film is like every person and every person is a lonely person. Most of us are alone, except for a few who are misunderstood.

Nuri is a great photographer. His films are an extended version of his landscape photography. Nearly every film of Nuri is a winner at the Cannes Film Festival —from ‘Distant’ to ‘Wild Pear Tree’.

Each of his films has a  similar opening shot, where the film’s protagonist is looking out of the mirror of a shop or a library. That’s the greatness of cinema, when the character is looking out, but the camera is looking inside the character. This magic of metaphysics cannot happen in any other art.

Nuri has captured Anatolia, Istanbul and Northern Turkey with great thrill and truth with his image making. Noori is one of the last remaining auteurs of cinema. Mostly filmmakers have now become philanthropists. They become urban or dilapidated.

– Gursimran Datla

Translation Assistance – Aparita Bhandari