Ten-year-old Moises has just immigrated to California from Mexico. He doesn't speak English, but he's good at math, so he hopes to do well on his first math test in the USA. Using untrained child actors from public schools in the San Francisco Bay Area, "Immersion" plunges its audience into the visceral experience of a child who cannot understand his teacher.
What would school be like if nobody spoke your language?
Did You Know?
Casting was probably the most important part of making "Immersion". The search to find Moises and his classmates took several months. Director Richard Levien
visited the twelve elementary schools in Oakland and San Francisco with the highest Latino enrollment. These are also schools where the vast majority of students are poor enough to qualify for free lunches. He spoke in every 4th and 5th grade classroom. He encouraged the kids to make their own films, using the child filmmaking exploits of Levien's countryman Peter Jackson
as an example. "Who's seen Lord of the Rings?" and "Guess how old the filmmaker was when he made his first film?" (correct answer: 8 years old) turned out to be good conversation-starters. Of course, the kids were also encouraged to participate in "Immersion". Auditions were held either at the school, or at a nearby public library that the kids were familiar with. Levien was able to talk to over one thousand kids this way, and on average more than one child from each class visited showed up for auditions. Most had never acted before, and very few had ever been to an audition. Because so many children were needed for the classroom and playground scenes, kids who did not get principal roles were still able to participate in the film if they wanted to. Throughout the process, the filmmakers wanted the experience to be an empowering one for all the kids involved. They were very happy to be bring two of those kids, Luis Bautista
(Moises) and Gerardo Acevedo (Gerardo) to attend the film's premiere at the Slamdance Film Festival in January 2009. See more
Written by Pablo Castro Navarro
Performed by Los Tigres del Norte
By Kind Permission of T. N. Ediciones Musicales dba Los Tigres Del Norte, Inc.
Courtesy of Universal Music Enterprises See more