I Learn America ~ A night with the filmmaker
One High School, One School Year, Five New Americans. A documentary by Jean-Michel Dissard & Gitte Peng.
In America, one in four children is a child of immigration. Here to stay, they are the future. How we fare in welcoming them will determine the nature of America’s continually emerging identity. At the International High School at Lafayette, a Brooklyn public high school dedicated to newly arrived immigrants from all over the world, five teenagers strive to master English, adapt to families they haven't seen in years, and create a future of their own while coming of age in a new land. Through these five vibrant young people, their stories and struggles, we “learn America.”
An night with the filmmaker
Join us for a free screening of I Learn America and a Q&A with the filmmaker, Jean-Michel Dissard along with three of the students featured in the film.
Watch the I Learn America trailer.
Run time: 92 minutes
About the filmmaker, Jean-Michel Dissard
Jean-Michel Dissard (Director/Producer) has always been creatively involved in the critically acclaimed films chronicling adolescent youth he produced, including: “Raising Victor Vargas” (90 minutes, Cannes 2002, Sundance 2003), a fiction developed in cooperation with Latino youth about a Dominican teenager in New York City; “Rikers High” (90 Minutes, Tribeca 2005 Best NYC Documentary), a documentary about three incarcerated teenagers in NYC’s Rikers Island jail; “Ezra” (Pan-African Festival FESPACO Grand Prize, Cannes, Sundance 2007), a fiction about the child soldiers of Liberia. He also co-wrote and produced “Down to the Bone” (Sundance 2004 Best Directing and Best Acting) by Debra Granik. Recently, Jean-Michel wrote a TV series in Paris derived from workshops organized with French immigrant teenagers. Through his company, Jean-Michel sells and distributes internationally award- winning short films. Eight films from Jean-Michel’s catalog premiered in Cannes. Six films have won major prizes in Sundance. He is on the Advisory Board of Cine-Institute, the only film school in Haiti. Originally from France, Jean-Michel immigrated to America when he was a teenager. He is a dual citizen.
About the film's three featured students who will be at the library
BRANDON made the journey from Guatemala to America to reunite with his mother after ten years apart. Crossing the desert and making the perilous journey was easy compared to getting to know his mom again. Will he be able to meet her expectations to do well in America?
SANDRA (17, Poland) is a tomboy and a class leader. She’s also undocumented. She and JENNIFFER, a sassy classmate from the Dominican Republic, are inseparable best friends - “like a flower with water.” Sandra has grown confident in identifying as a girl who dresses as a boy, but as she faces graduation, she fears that being undocumented means she will lose all they have been able to gain once they leave the security of the school.
This evening is made possible through generous support from Facing History and Ourselves and the Gill Foundation.