Next week in Tampa, the documentary "They Come To America" will be screened on the final day of the Republican National Convention. Despite the afternoon screening time on the last day of the GOP's big week, director Dennis Michael Lynch expects the 1,200-seat theater to be filled to capacity. And after seeing the film and speaking with the director at length, it's easy to see why.
Lynch did not plan to make this movie. He was working on a very different documentary when he came upon Tom Wedell, an unemployed roofer on Long Island who was protesting the growing presence of illegal aliens in Suffolk County, NY. Each morning, dozens of illegals (mostly men), he said, would gather outside of a 7-11 store in the town of Southampton and offer themselves as day laborers. Mr. Wedell would show up across the street with an American flag and a sign reading "Deport Illegals."
Lynch tells the story of driving by the protesting Wedell as he was hearing Neil Diamond on his car radio singing, "They're Coming To America." The filmmaker stopped his car, took out his camera and started talking with and filming the protester. Within minutes, he knew he was on to something.
"They Come To America" bounces back and forth between the concerned Americans and the illegal workers (and their supporters). Not surprisingly, many of the Americans interviewed believe the millions of undocumented workers are costing our country its future. On the other side of the argument are the workers and those who are helping them. And they think very differently.
Some of the statements from the illegals that Mr. Lynch interviewed will likely spark an angry reaction from many. This clip shows some of the people who were taking "English as a second language" classes on Long Island, and one gentleman does not sugar-coat his lack of respect for America. He is only here to make money and then go back home. When speaking to Mr. Lynch about this scene, and specifically one man's unvarnished disdain for America, the director stated:
"When he said that... I changed to Dennis The American from Dennis the filmmaker."
See it below:
Lynch said he tried to look at this story from as many angles as possible:
- He actually hired a couple of workers and recorded some revealing comments and very personal moments from one young man.
- He visited Miami and interviewed locals, transplants and native Floridians about the influx of Spanish-speaking people that has overwhelmed the region.
- A trip to the southern border of the U.S. almost gave Lynch a heart attack as he and an assistant were forced to flee from a Mexican cartel that actually fired bullets at them and chased them along the border.
Ranchers who live along the U.S.-Mexican border were particularly graphic in their descriptions of the problems they are forced to deal with because the government will not act to stop the flow of illegals.
Lynch says he was chilled to the bone when one of the ranchers clarified the difference between the problems caused by immigration in the Northeast and the ones they face on the border:
"You've got people that want to cut your lawn. We've got people who want to cut your throat."
Despite a lack of access to theaters via film festivals, "They Come To America" has been making inroads via DVD sales and smaller screenings at Tea Party meetings. Lynch told TheBlaze he intends to host screenings with question and answer sessions for Tea Party members in all 50 states.
A relative newcomer to the world of filmmaking, Dennis Michael Lynch has made a powerful movie that will inspire emotional reactions from both sides of the immigration argument. "They Come To America" is well-shot, professionally produced and moves at a solid pace before building to a strong conclusion. And yet Lynch has had a tough time getting his film screened at many of the festivals happening around the country. Nearly thirty film festivals have rejected his work. Why? Could it be due to the subject matter?
The trailer gives you a strong sample of the overall tone and scope of the project:
Here are some additional clips that did not make the final cut of the film, but still warrant watching.