DENTON (UNT), Texas -- After leaving her home country of Italy and coming to the U.S., University of North Texas graduate student Sara Masetti found herself identifying with other immigrants. She chose the student movement for passage of the DREAM Act as the subject for the second film she created for her master's degree in documentary film production.
This film, Undocumented Dreams, has been chosen for screening at next month's New Filmmakers Series in New York City. Started in 1998 by New York University film students to show their work and promote themselves to the city's film community, New Filmmakers is now internationally recognized for screening animation, documentaries, shorts, and feature films that are not eligible to be shown at other New York City festivals. The organization has a Los Angeles branch and several corporate sponsors, including Angelika Entertainment, owner of the Angelika Film Centers in Dallas and Plano.
Undocumented Dreams will be shown at 6 p.m. March 13 as part of New Filmmakers' Latino film series -- films by and about Latinos. Masetti will attend the screening.
She features Loren Campos, a native of Mexico and an activist for passage of the DREAM Act, as the main character in Undocumented Dreams. A 2011 civil engineering graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Campos came to the U.S. at age 11 with his mother, who fled an abusive marriage.
Masetti, who earned her bachelor's degree in radio, television and film from UT-Austin, found out about Campos through his blog. She calls the DREAM Act, a federal bill that would provide conditional permanent U.S. residency to high school graduates who arrived in the U.S. as minors and are currently enrolled in college, "a sensitive topic."
"One of the challenges was trying to craft an argument that could be appealing to both sides of the debates," she said. "I was trying the human story, and breach through Loren's official identity as the representative for the DREAM act youth movement."
Undocumented Dreams was also shown at Denton's Thin Line Film Fest and the Dam Short Film Fest in Boulder City, Nev., earlier this month, and the United Nations Film Festival in San Francisco last fall.
Masetti said she's been interested in films from a young age. Her home in Sarzana, Italy, north of Pisa, was only a few feet from the town's movie theater. After taking a film photography class when she was an exchange student at the Episcopal School of Dallas, Masetti decided to create films as a career.
"The UNT MFA program is very refreshing because the faculty always welcomes your ideas. It's a small department, but depending on your interests, you will probably find a faculty member with some of the same interests. You also work on the crew of three other students' films besides producing your own, so you do cinematography, sound production and editing," she said.
She is currently creating her master's thesis documentary, a 20-minute film about her coming to terms with her two lives -- the one as a student in the U.S. and the one in her hometown in Italy. She has been traveling back and forth to Italy to shoot the film, called The Ocean In Between.
After graduating this May, Masetti hopes to teach at a U.S. college or university while continuing to create films.