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.
About the Filmmaker
Chelsea Hernandez is a Mexican-American filmmaker based in Austin, Texas, named one of Texas Monthly Magazine’s “10 Filmmakers on the Rise.” She is an 8-time Emmy-winning director, producer, and editor in the Texas region. Chelsea started her career in media at the ripe age of nine, hosting and co-producing a local children’s educational TV program with her mother (think Martha Stewart show but for kids!). Chelsea received a B.S. from the University of Texas, the first in her Latino family to achieve a college degree. She began her documentary career right out of college, as Associate Producer and Assistant Editor on PBS national broadcast special, Fixing the Future, hosted by David Brancaccio of NPR’s Marketplace, 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). From 2013 to 2016, Chelsea was the primary editor and co-producer of Arts In Context, a documentary series produced at KLRU-TV, Austin PBS and distributed by NETA. Chelsea has directed and produced various documentary films, including See the Dirt (Austin Film Festival Short Documentary Winner) and, most recently, An Uncertain Future (SXSW Texas Jury Winner, AspenShorts Youth Jury Winner, CineFestival Short Winner). Chelsea is a NALIP Latino Media Market fellow, Firelight Media Doc Lab Fellow, Tribeca Storylab Fellow, Tribeca All Access Recipient, BAVC National Mediamaker Fellow, and UC Berkeley Investigative Reporting Workshop Fellow.