Waterford Students Win International and National Recognition for Social Justice Film

Thursday, February 4, 2021

DACAmented As part of Waterford’s Visiting Artist program, in winter 2019-20 we offered an extraordinary opportunity for eight of our students to work with acclaimed documentary filmmaker Jenny Mackenzie. These students pursued an intensive workshop in which they learned about social issue documentary filmmaking while conceiving and creating films of their own.

Divided into three teams, our students put in dozens upon dozens of hours of work outside of class time — in planning, filming, and post-production of three short films.  Their tremendous passion shines through in the impressive finished product that each of the three teams achieved.

All three films have earned accolades and recognition, but one in particular, DACAmented by Samantha C. ’20, Emma G. ’22, and Kate P. ’21, has had an amazing run of success at festivals. This film is an intimate look into the life of a young DACA recipient. Some of the more notable recognitions have included:  

  • London Independent Film Awards (Best Documentary Short Student)
  • Boston International Kids Film Festival (Featured Film)
  • Williamsburg International Film & Music Competition (Student Documentary Short Film Runner-Up)
  • Los Angeles LatinX Film Festival (Featured Film)
  • Fayetteville Film Fest (Featured Film)
  • Waterford, Ireland Film Festival (Featured Film)
  • Voices for Utah Children Student Voice Award
  • Voices for Utah Children Film Festival (Featured Film)
  • Featured in FiRe Films newsletter
  • Featured in Sandy Journal
Film Directors
DACAmented filmmakers, Samantha C. ’20, Emma G. ’22,
and Kate P. ’21

In DACAmented, three young female filmmakers follow Kiara Lopez-Cabanillas for an intimate look into the life of a young DACA recipient. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was created by President Obama in 2012 to give legal status to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, allowing its recipients to work and live in the USA without fear of deportation. Over the past couple of years, DACA has faced significant opposition from the Trump administration with the possibility of the program being terminated, leaving Kiara and over 700,000 DACA recipients in fear of their status being revoked. For Kiara, the end of DACA would mean deportation to a place she hasn’t called home in over 18 years. DACAmented highlights Kiara’s experience as she navigates the challenges that come with being an immigrant in the United States and calls attention to the significant role that those under DACA play in American society.

All three films, DACAmentedAmal, by Lucza B. ’22, Isabel H. ’21, and Tione H. ’21; and Kilgore, by Amelia R. ’20 and Clea W. ‘20 were honored at a “premiere” event.  We are so proud of these eight students, and suspect that this will not be the last film that many of them make.  We hope you will check out their impressive finished products: waterfordschool.org/documentaries2020