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Documentary - The New Americans

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The New Americans
Directed by Gita Saedi
Facets 2009
410 minutes

The New Americans is a fascinating 3 part 2 DVD documentary that follows the story of 6 different individuals or couples as they aspire to go to America and mostly what happens once they get there. Show on PBS as part of the Independent Lens series, this is your usual PBS high quality, well-made documentary. This is the kind of documentary DVD you share with friends and watch a few times.

The length of The New Americans is a bit overwhelming but it does span four years in the life of these people. Each episode is two hours long but you can select to watch it an hour at a time; a very good idea as there is a lot going on. Another possible and the best option through the DVD menu is to focus on a particular character in each episode.

The New Americans follows a Dominican Republic teen as he works to make it to major league baseball, a Palestinian woman who is waiting to join her future husband in Chicago, Nigerian Ken Saro Wiwa’s sister and another Nigerian activist and his wife living in a refugee camp and then building a new life in Chicago, and the adventures of an Indian couple as they move to Silicon Valley and the dot com bust.

This documentary is not about the American dream more than it is about people trying to make a new life in a new and very different place. Nobody becomes a millionaire, but hard work and perseverance do sometimes off if not always as much as they had hoped.

A little short in the documentary is what happens to the Palestinian / American couple after 9-11 though you do get the gist of it.

A welcome added feature is Where Are They Now. Unfortunately, it is but a picture of the various people with a short blurb.

The New Americans is an excellent documentary DVD well worth watching.

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