BUILDING THE AMERICAN DREAM
BUILDING THE AMERICAN DREAM
BUILDING THE AMERICAN DREAM
BUILDING THE AMERICAN DREAM
Follow immigrant families rising up to seek justice in a construction industry rife with exploitation.

BUILDING THE AMERICAN DREAM

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GRAND JURY PRIZE - El Paso Film Festival "Eye-opener" - The Hollywood Reporter | EMERGING FILMMAKER - Thin Line Festival

Labor Studies • Immigration Studies • Hispanic + Latino Studies • Economics • Worker Rights • Democracy • Social Issues • Politics + Policy

Date of Completion: March 2019 | Run Time: 73 minutes​​ | Language: English & Spanish with English & Spanish subtitles | Captions: Yes | Includes: Transcript | Director: Chelsea Hernandez | Producers: Chelsea Hernandez & Marisol Medrano Montoya

Across Texas, an unstoppable construction boom drives urban sprawl and luxury high-rises. Its dirty secret: abuse of immigrant labor. BUILDING THE AMERICAN DREAM captures a turning point as a movement forms to fight widespread construction industry injustices. Grieving their son, a Mexican family campaigns for a life-and-death safety ordinance. A Salvadorian electrician couple owed thousands in back pay fights for their children’s future. A bereaved son battles to protect others from his family's preventable tragedy. A story of courage, resilience, and community, the film reveals shocking truths about the hardworking immigrants who build the American Dream, of which they are excluded.

Roger Ebert 
“The hard-hitting documentary examines the recent boom in Texas’ economy and the toll it’s taken immigrant laborers...”

The Hollywood Reporter 
“An eye-opener about the abuse of workers whose immigration status makes them victims.”

Film Threat
“This film opens your eyes even more to exactly how unfair this country is to undocumented immigrants, particularly those of Latinx origins. Chelsea Hernandez tugs at our heartstrings and puts fuel to a fire of righteous anger.”

Texas Observer
“A striking mix of intimate drama and something approaching a how-to guide for community organizers…”

The Austin Chronicle
“The film explores the dual threats of wage theft and personal injury with a determination that doesn’t shy away from the political. Hernandez brings us into City Council meetings and charts the Trump administration’s plans to end DACA. While these issues often get elevated and then abstracted in media, Hernandez instead allows the families to lead the tone of the documentary.”

Austin360
‘‘BUILDING THE AMERICAN DREAM reveals dark side of ‘Texas Miracle’’

REQUEST A GOOD TALK WITH CHELSEA HERNANDEZ

Chelsea Hernandez is a Mexican-American filmmaker based in Austin, Texas. She directed and produced BUILDING THE AMERICAN DREAM. Named as one of Texas Monthly’s “10 Filmmakers on the Rise,” she is an 8-time Lone Star Emmy winning director, producer and editor. Chelsea has worked for ten years in the documentary television and film industry on such projects like PBS national broadcast special, Fixing the Future, hosted by David Brancaccio of NPR’s Marketplace and directed by Ellen Spiro (Body of War, Troop 1500) and national 6-part series Ancient Roads from Christ to Constantine directed by Hector Galan (Children of Giant, Chicano), United Tacos of America an 8 episode series on El Rey Network and most recently on That Animal Rescue Show a 10 episode series for CBS All Access. From 2013 to 2016 Chelsea was editor and co-producer of Arts In Context, a documentary series produced at KLRU-TV, Austin PBS and distributed by NETA, broadcast in 80% of the PBS markets nationwide. Beyond television work, Chelsea has directed and produced various documentary films including the 2018 SXSW Texas Short Jury Winner An Uncertain Future, a commissioned project with Field of Vision and Firelight Media. She made her feature directorial debut in 2019 with Building the American Dream which premiered at SXSW and recently had its national broadcast premiere on PBS.