Jose Antonio Lozano’s immersive virtual reality film “Los Sueños de Anita” — “Anita’s Dreams” — immerses viewers into the life of two undocumented parents as they raise their young daughter.
“We kind of treat the camera as its own character and that person will become a viewer,” he said in an interview with FoxValley365.
Each scene, shot in a 360 degree view, offers viewers a glimpse into the issues and fears the immigrant community faces. In the film, Anita, a young girl, has lived in the United States all of life; her parents, Julio and Annabelle, risked everything for her. Lozano wrote, produced and directed the film himself.
“I’m trying to reach all communities that would never have to pass through this, or never have to go through this, that are somewhat privileged in that aspect of being native-born citizens of the United States,” he said.
Lozano recalled when Trump announced that some of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) rights were being annulled. He remembers feeling concerned because he is a DACA recipient. Lozano was born in Macuto, Venezuela where he lived at his grandparents’ house, a large home that accommodated a multi generational family.
Lozano also remembers his family’s apartment in Paracotos Venezuela, the town where he attended both preschool and kindergarten. Unfortunately, Venezuelan politics took a dark turn in the late 1990s so Lozano’s parents decided to relocate to the U.S. with his older and younger brother.
“Venezuela between 1950-1989 was one of the richest countries in the world. It was like Dubai and now it’s taking a drastic turn,” Lozano said.
In 2002, their family settled in Little Chute, Wisconsin where he attended Little Chute Elementary School from 1st through 5th grade. Lozano said his parents worked very hard as new immigrants to this country, providing a wonderful and memorable childhood in America for him and his siblings. After graduating from high school in Kaukauna, Wisconsin, he studied film at the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee.
“I did two internships in Milwaukee. One was (with) 371 Production that works with social justice,” Lozano said.
During his internship experiences, he was exposed to using virtual reality for storytelling purposes. At 371, Lozano worked under people like award-winning filmmaker Brad Lichtenstein whose virtual reality film, “Across the Line,” about accessing abortion amid hostile protests, premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2016.
When Lozano needed an idea for his senior film project, he chose to go back to his roots, producing a story familiar to the Latino community. He began writing Los Sueños de Anita in the Summer of 2017. Lozano spent several months finalizing the screenplay, casting actors, scouting locations and budgeting before even shooting the film, which premiered May 2018.
“In the very first scene, we start off with the family going out to dinner. You see this Latino family speaking Spanish but they’re at a Pho restaurant and people don’t normally see that, so it’s like a culture shock,” he said.
Lozano said he wants to be able to reach people who are unaware of what their neighbors are going through. Undocumented citizens cannot vote; however, citizens have power and are the ones who can change the law.
Lozano hosted a total of five screenings. For a couple of these events, he asked viewers fill out a “Reflection and Action” form where they wrote down their feelings and thoughts after watching the piece. He also encouraged them to take action by joining social justice groups in their area, voting for representatives that support immigration reform, and calling their representatives to ask for comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship for the undocumented residing in the U.S.
“Immigration laws should be reformed because they’re pretty unrealistic right now,” Lozano said. “Some people are running away from war and looking for refugee status.”
He said the wall demonizes people that are already here by generating fear of immigrants. Additionally, border crossings have drastically decreased since 2007. The U.S. law says anyone can come to the border unannounced and ask for asylum but members of the caravan arriving from Central America were tear-gassed.
Lozano said Trump is denying poor Black and brown people. His goals for this immersive video project are to have as many people view it as possible, to change the narrative that all undocumented people are monsters.
“They do not deserve to be treated like criminals. Their actions in this country would actually qualify them as ‘outstanding citizens’ if only they were born on the right soil,” Lozano said.