Waking Dream

Waking Dream cuts beyond politics to reveal the reality of undocumented
young people working tenaciously for a brighter future in the U.S.


Waking Dream weaves together the stories of six undocumented young people as they sit in limbo between deportation and a path to citizenship. DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) has provided nearly 800,000 undocumented young people a chance to work legally, go to college, start businesses, and pursue the “American Dream.” After DACA is rescinded, Waking Dream follows the unfolding fate of six of these young people as they fight for legal status in the U.S., struggle with the deportation of family members, and pursue their dreams in a country that is trying harder and harder to push them out. They know their fate must go one direction and they are fighting for their future in America.

Director and Producer
Theo Rigby

Rebekah Fergusson

Director of Photography
Theo Rigby

Jen Bradwell

Music by
William Ryan Fritch

Sound Recordists
Gerardo Villareal
Rebekah Fergusson
Emile Bokaer

DVD + Streaming for Universities


Easily stream Waking Dream to your University, College, or organization through Kanopy Streaming. Purchase a one or three year license to stream the film to your students in high-definition and share the film across your academic community in just a few clicks.

New Day Filmskanopy

It was a powerful and moving film. Waking Dream illustrates and illuminates the people and the stories to bring to life the caricature, as presented in the media. The film showing and discussion allowed our class to take a step back, and was space for folks to speak, and to listen. Immigration issues, particularly regarding DACA, connects folks beyond time and space, and the film showing somehow makes that connection real.

Professor Odessa Gonzalez Benson MSW, PhD
School of Social Work, University of Michigan

The Waking Dream screenings represented an opportunity to bring our community together around one of the most pressing issues facing our students, our families, and our nation: immigration and human rights. The stories featured in Waking Dream brought to life the experiences of our own students and teachers, and we used the screening as an opportunity to have discussions with our local community members about DACA, undocumented families, and the ways that we can best support our students, parents, and faculty members facing anxiety and hardship resulting from shifting national policies.

Adam Carter
Chief Academic Officer, Summit Public schools

Waking Dream is a must see for all social workers and students in schools of social work.   The film speaks to the social justice and immigration issues of our time and provides social work faculty, students, and professionals with short documentary films that can be integrated in the class room, and within community based agencies.

Adrian L. Delgado
President of the Latino Social Workers Organization

Dialogue Guide & Lessons

waking dream dialogue guideDialogue Guide

Engaging in dialogue around contentious issues like immigration requires practice and patience. This guide provides tips and resources for preparing yourself and your group to create space for respectful exchange of viewpoints and active listening.


Download Dialogue Guide

lessons for waking dreamLessons for Grades 6-12

The classroom-friendly format of Waking Dream affords educators multiple entry points to support an inclusive approach to learning about immigrant experiences in the classroom. Each episode is paired with a lesson that delves deeper into a particular theme that emerges from the stories, engaging students in dialogue and written exercises individually, and as a classroom community, to unpack and digest the complexity of each story.


Download Lessons

lessons for waking dreamWaking Dream Event Planning Guide

Plan an event around the Waking Dream series by following our guide.


Download Event Guide





“Dialogue is a shared inquiry, a way of thinking and reflecting together…a large part of learning this has to do with learning to shift your attitudes about relationships with others, so that we gradually give up the effort to make them understand us, and come to a greater understanding of ourselves and each other.”

~ William Isaac, The Art of Thinking Together


Participant Profiles


Dilan Pedreza

DILAN is a middle school teacher in Richmond, California who came to the U.S. when he was 2 months old. Waking Dream follows Dilan as he makes deeper connections with his students, pursues his dream of becoming a lawyer, and gains “advance parole” permission to travel to Mexico to see his father for the first time in 14 years.

john and james

John and James

James and John are 22 year-old Filipino twins with dreams of joining the U.S. Military. Their parents overstayed their visa to escape abject poverty in the Philippines, but they do not become aware of their undocumented status until high school when they try to enlist in the military. Years later, after receiving DACA, they became eligible for “MAVNI,” a special program for immigrants with strategic language skills in the Army that paves the way for expedited citizenship. Waking Dream follows James and John as they await their ship date to basic training and face an uncertain future with recent changes to the “MAVNI” program puts their pathway to citizenship in doubt.



Steve is Peruvian born, but of Chinese descent. After his house was raided in 2010 by ICE, both of his parents were deported to China, a country they had not lived in for 30 years. Steve was saved from deportation by a publicity campaign led by Senator Dianne Feinstein and shortly after applied for DACA. Waking Dream follows Steve as he attempts to stay close to his parents over the internet, and as his DACA permit nears expiration. He risks being deported back to Peru, a country where he has no family or community.



Rossy is a Mexican American poet finishing her PhD in Linguistics and caring for her undocumented mother. With DACA, she is able to apply for a green card through her husband. After passing the first step in applying for permanent residency, we follow the nervous couple as they make their way to an in-person interview. At series end, Rossy attends the hooding ceremony to receive her PhD at the University of Houston, the crowning achievement of her life.



Marisol lives in Southern Arizona, 70 miles from the U.S./Mexico border. She graduated at the top of her high school class and watched her peers go on to college. She has a good job which provides health insurance for her two kids with ongoing medical needs. With an undocumented husband working under the table at a farm, Marisol represents one of the most vulnerable undocumented young people if DACA were to disappear.