Directed by: Gitte Peng, Jean-Michel Dissard 2013 | 93 min.

Section: New American Filmmakers

Premiere: Hawaii Premiere


Sponsored by:


The Vilcek Foundation

The children of immigration, here to stay, are the new Americans. How we fare in welcoming them will determine the nature of this country in the 21st century and beyond. The International High School at Lafayette is a New York City public school dedicated to serving newly arrived immigrant teenagers, with more than 300 students speaking two dozen languages from 50 countries. The students strive to master English, adapt to families they haven't seen in years, confront the universal trials of adolescence, and search for a future they can claim as their own. In I LEARN AMERICA five resilient immigrant teenagers come together over a year at the International High School at Lafayette and struggle to learn their new land. Through these five vibrant young people, their stories and struggles, and their willingness to open their lives and share them with us, we "learn America.

As part of the New American Filmmakers program designed to highlight the contributions of immigrants to American cinema, I LEARN AMERICA director Jean-Michel Dissard will be in attendance for a special post-screening Q&A with audience members.

Click here for more information on the NAF program and the 2013 New American Filmmakers.


Before directing I LEARN AMERICA, Jean-Michel produced several critically acclaimed films chronicling adolescent youth, including: RAISING VICTOR VARGAS (2002), RIKERS HIGH (2005), and EZRA (2007). He also co-wrote and produced DOWN TO THE BONE (2004), directed by Debra Granik. Dissard is on Cine-Institute’s Advisory Board, the only film school in Haiti.  Originally from France, Jean-Michel immigrated to America when he was a teenager.  He is a dual French-US citizen.


Tuesday, October 15 6:30 PM Dole Cannery C Date Passed
Wednesday, October 16 1:00 PM Dole Cannery D Date Passed

Cast & Crew

Director Gitte Peng, Jean-Michel Dissard
Producer Gitte Peng, Jean-Michel Dissard
Cinematographer Jean-Michel Dissard

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