The dissolution of the American dream

Documentary filmmaker Vikram Zutshi's film traces the real-life story of a member of the The Minuteman Project, in order to provide xenophobia, racism and anti-immigrant sentiments, with a 'human' face

Max Kennedy and the American Dream is an exploration of hatred, says producer-director Vikram Zutshi about his directorial debut. Zutshi decided to make the film after reading an article in a US newspaper about Max Kennedy, a man who was part of the Minuteman Project, an organisation started in April 2005 by a group of private individuals from the US to monitor the flow of illegal immigrants at the Mexico-United States border.

A still from Vikram Zutshi's Max Kenedy and the American dream

The film, which had its premiere in Europe at the international documentary festival, Vision Du Reel, is shot in the Cinema Verite style that combines naturalistic techniques with stylised cinematic devices. The story of Max unfolds over a span of one year, giving the audience an opportunity to witness the protagonist's journey from outrage to reconciliation.

"It is a human story set against a political backdrop. Max realises that the people he is opposing are in the same boat as him: They are all economic refugees," says Zutshi, who was keen not to colour the narrative with his own biases. "The film does not even have a voice-over."

The film is a look at the 'human' face of xenophobia, racism and anti-immigrant sentiment that is not confined to just the US. "These are universal experiences. In India too, the anti-immigrant sentiment is prevalent. The MNS opposing people from UP and accusing them of depriving locals of jobs is a perfect analogy," elaborates Zutshi.

Real to reel
Max Kennedy lived on the US-Mexico border for a year and a half, trying to prevent illegal immigrants from entering the US. He had lost a job and his family had split up. His belief that illegal workers were lowering wage brackets, resulting in the loss of American jobs was what fuelled him to join the Minuteman movement. "At the border he realises that the Mexicans are no different from him. Everyone is looking for the same thing: a better life," concludes Zutshi.

On May 13, 6.30 pm
At NCPA, NCPA Marg, Nariman Point.
Call 66223737

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