Written by: Anne Galisky, “Papers” Director

It is an honor for all of us who have worked together to produce and distribute “Papers: Stories of Undocumented Youth” that our film will be included in the first annual AILA Film Festival. Hundreds of people helped make the film a reality, many of those undocumented youth. The film has played to audiences in all 50 states and at the U.S. Capitol building. I have heard many immigrant youth activists call the film “our movie.” I couldn’t be more pleased about the ownership they feel.

The question that invariably comes up after screenings is, “Why did you decide to make this film?” One of the reasons is that my partner, Rebecca Shine (who took on the role of producer), and I knew a number of undocumented young people and we saw their hope waning. For them, high school graduation loomed ahead as something to dread, not something about which to be excited. For them, graduation felt like the end of their lives, not the beginning. We decided to start the film project to keep their and our hopes up. We did not know the reach that “Papers” would eventually have.

It has been an extraordinary privilege and pleasure over the past five years to get to know hundreds of undocumented youth from all parts of the country whose families have come from all over the world. I always ask about the hopes and dreams of these young people, the dreams that they continue to pursue to the best of their abilities in the current fractured political environment. In my personal very unofficial polling, the career choice that seems to come out on top is that of Immigration Attorney. They want to do what you do. And they will be great at it.

In September and again in December of 2010, I went into my backyard, looked up at the sky, and prayed that our film would become irrelevant. I am still waiting for that day, when people will watch “Papers” to learn about an incredibly powerful youth movement that inspired immigrants and allies to take a tangible step toward fixing our immigration system. I hope that day comes soon.

If your office, university or organization would like to host a screening of “Papers: Stories of Undocumented Youth,” go to http://www.papersthemovie.com.

We have a new film in the works and would love your support as we begin production. 14: From Dred Scott to Vanessa Lopez will be a feature-length documentary film created to educate students and adults about the citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment and the present-day attacks upon it, using personal stories as well as expertly-told history. http://www.14themovie.com

The Student Alliance Project is a youth leadership program that grew out of the “Papers” Youth Crew. For more information, visit http://www.studentallianceproject.org

This blog is the third in a series on the 2012 AILA Film Fest. Stay tuned in coming weeks as several of the filmmakers featured at this years’ event will be blogging about their films. For more information, including a complete list of films titles and trailers, visit the AILA Film Fest homepage.  For more information on AILA’s Annual Conference, please visit: www.aila.org/ac.