The Sarah W. Heath Center for Equality & Justice hosted a screening of “The Unafraid,” a documentary that tackles the obstacles DACA students and their families face. The screening was hosted in the Lundring Event Center at California Lutheran University on Thursday, Sept. 20.
“The Unafraid,” directed by Heather Courtney and Panamanian-American filmmaker Anayansi Prado, is a documentary that first premiered at the Full Frame Film Festival, where it was awarded the Kathleen Bryan Edwards Human Rights Award. Shot in an observational style over a period of four years, “The Unafraid” follows the personal lives of three DACA students in Georgia, a state where undocumented students are not eligible for in-state tuition and where DACA recipients are banned from attending in-state public universities. This film gives an intimate look into the personal lives of three students as they deal with tough topics such as activism, their right to education and fighting for the rights of their own families.
When asked what inspired the film, Prado said she was really hoping to create a film about undocumented students in the United States.
“Me and Courtney went across the states looking for stories. I was doing a presentation of one of my films and a professor told me about Freedom University. Within a month, Heather and I flew to Georgia and we were so taken by the stories we heard. Within the first day of being in Georgia we decided to tell the story of DACA students living in the state. From the first time we met the students, we knew, this is the film we need to make,” Prado said.
Prado also talked her about passion for telling stories that focus on immigration and how powerful an experience it was being able to document these students for four years.
“What I thought was very unique about this group in particular is that they are very much Americans – the only difference is they are undocumented. I thought that hybrid of who they are was so interesting and I wanted to find out more what their lives were like,” Prado said.
If people are going to take one thing away from this film, Prado hopes it is awareness. “I definitely want people to be aware of the issues. Be aware that outside of California there is a whole other world,” Prado said.
Aside from the struggles that DACA recipients currently face, Prado has hope for the future. “We can create solidarity and we can connect with those communities. That’s one of the main things we want to do with this film, is connect people,” Prado said.
Prado’s projects have received support from multiple groups including The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Rockefeller Media Fellowship, Latino Public Broadcasting and the U.S. Department Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs.
The film was a hit among students and concluded with a roaring applause. Garrett Mueller, a sophomore and the Center for Equality & Justice student program coordinator was really excited about the film finally being shown at Cal Lutheran.
“We were really ecstatic about putting something together like this. We’ve been planning this film since July … It was really sad to see the reality of people living outside California and makes me realize how easy I have it here in California and how hard it is outside of our bubble in Southern California. I was really impressed by the film and thought it was really well done,” Mueller said.
First-year student Allison Dickson had similar views on the film.
“I knew what DACA was before the film but I really enjoyed coming in and learning about DACA scholars. One thing I didn’t know was that in Georgia that they’re banned from the top five schools. That really shocked me. The part about them having to go to other states for an education was baffling,” Dickson said.
Dickson hopes this documentary can help bring change to society in the future.
“I had never heard personal stories from other states, I thought that was really amazing to bring light to these students’ stories and I hope this film can get be shown nationwide to help make new policies,” Dickson said.