At first, I assumed FutureStates was going to be a science-fiction series, which is not really my type of stuff. But I figured it couldn’t hurt to brainstorm a little. The request for proposals called for shorts set in the future but based on issues of today. I sat down and wrote down every issue I could think of: education, poverty, health care, avian flu, swine flu, terrorism, the death of real news, etc. I also wrote down the word “immigration.”
I thought about the current immigration debate in our country. It seemed ironic to me that so many people were angry about illegal immigration, despite two glaring facts: First, all Americans (with the exception of Native Americans) are immigrants, were immigrants, or our ancestors were immigrants. Second, Americans depend on immigrants, particularly illegal immigrants, to do many of the jobs most Americans don’t want to do. But what was more striking was the unabashed anger (and racism) of those that wanted to get rid of them. We even have the Minutemen, who proudly hunt down illegal immigrants along the border.
Why do people come here? As the child of immigrants, the answer seemed pretty obvious to me — for a better life for themselves and their kids.
But that wasn’t much of a story. I racked my brain. What were we as Americans not getting about this issue? I kept scribbling down ideas until it finally came to me — what if one day Americans were immigrants again? While it may seem preposterous to some, I couldn’t help but feel that we Americans live in fragile times. Our economy seemed to be on the brink of collapse. Schools are failing. Health care costs are strangling everyone. Would it be so strange if a few decades from now Americans were willing to cross illegally into another country for a better life? And if they did, how would they like it if they were treated the same way we treat illegal immigrants in the U.S. today?
My first instinct was to consider a story about a family trying to get to Canada, but that didn’t feel strong enough. No, we were going to have to turn the tables here in a more pronounced and ironic direction. We went pretty much as far as we could go (in the context of a short film). I predict some people who watch The Other Side will laugh at the ending but I do hope that they also get the point: we should treat others the way we may want to be treated one day. That’s not too hard to understand.
— Amyn Kaderali
Amyn Kaderali, Director
A graduate of the prestigious NYU Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Film Program, Amyn Kaderali is a recipient of the Martin Scorsese Young Filmmaker Award and the Perry Ellis Breakthrough Filmmaker Award. His short films have won awards worldwide and he has written several screenplays for producers and major studios, including Miramax/Dimension Films. His latest film, the feature romantic comedy Kissing Cousins won the Audience Choice Award at the 2008 Asian American Int’l Film Festival and was released in August. Amyn has also worked extensively in television, most recently as a director-producer for the upcoming reality TV shows Greenspace and Crash Course to Stardom.