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Maria Juranic's Short Film DREAMERS Uses Breakdancing To Explore DACA Recipients' Frustrations

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Maria Juranic's Short Film DREAMERS Uses Breakdancing To Explore DACA Recipients' Frustrations

From gray institutional walls to mountains of paperwork, filmmaker Maria Juranic's latest short film, Dreamers, gives viewers a look into the exhausting experience faced by young immigrants filling out Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) forms at their local United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office.

"Dreamers is a commentary on the struggle DACA recipients face to solidify their right to be in the United States. For most DACA recipients, the U.S. is the only country they know and to live in bureaucratic limbo is terrifying. Because breakdancing is underrepresented in the more formal dance world, it seemed like an ideal vehicle for conveying their struggles," said Juranic.

The film came from a place of personal experience for Juranic, "As an immigrant myself, I have seen many friends and family members get tossed in the system for years, always buried under never-ending paperwork that has so much hold over one's identity. I hope this experimental story encourages more conversation about our current administration's actions towards the immigrant community, which contributes so much to the nation's economy. This country was built by immigrants and it's on us to fight for our future and our nation."

DACA covers undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. After their forms are approved by USCIS, individuals receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and become eligible for a work permit. That approval, however, takes an inordinate amount of time, and undocumented immigrants awaiting to hear about their status often live in fear and frustration.

Those feelings, captured by Juranic's direction, are expressed by intricate breakdancing choreography designed by Lisa Berman, the 2019 recipient of an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, and performed by the BRKFST Dance Company.On Nov. 6, Dreamers will screen at the Red Rock Film Festival as it continues to make the festival rounds. The film has screened at several film festivals in the United States and internationally, including Dances with Films, the Brooklyn Film Festival, Minneapolis Film Festival, the Dumbo Film Festival and the Tirana International Film Festival, where it won the Best Video Art & Experimental Award.

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