American Dream

A recovering addict suffers the dangers and indignities of gig work in the wealthy homes of the privileged few.

  • Angela Garcia Combs
  • Asher Huey
  • Tara L. Craig
  • Meredith Riley Stewart
  • Asher Huey
  • Angela Garcia Combs
  • Alfred Molina
    Key Cast
  • Julia Garcia Combs
    Key Cast
  • Alycia Cooper
    Key Cast
  • Eric Pierpoint
    Key Cast
  • Meredith Riley Stewart
    Key Cast
  • Erik Liberman
    Key Cast
  • Elena Campbell-Martinez
    Key Cast
  • Sydney Rose Walker
    Key Cast
  • Amir Levi
    Key Cast
  • Stuart K Robinson
    Key Cast
  • Logan Eckstein
    Key Cast
  • Dash Pomeranz
    Key Cast
  • Helen Madelyn Kim
    Key Cast
  • Jendra Jarnagin
  • Marta Evry
  • Vickie Sampson
    Sound Design
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    20 minutes 57 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    August 19, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    20,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Washington, DC International Film Festival
    Washington, DC
    United States
    April 30, 2022
    World Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Diversity In Cannes Short Film Showcase
    May 23, 2022
    European Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Cannes Short Film Corner
    May 25, 2022
  • Manhattan Film Festival
    New York
    United States
    June 22, 2022
    Winner: Best Social Drama
  • LA Shorts International Film Festival
    Los Angeles
    United States
    July 21, 2022
    Los Angeles Premiere
    Winner: Best Actress - Julia Garcia Combs
  • New Hope Film Festival
    New Hope, PA
    United States
    July 23, 2022
  • Breck Film Festival
    Breckenridge, CO
    United States
    September 17, 2022
    Colorado Premiere
  • Prescott Film Festival
    Prescott, AZ
    United States
    September 28, 2022
    Jury Award: Best Short; Audience Award: Best Short
  • The Seattle Film Festival
    Seattle, WA
    United States
    October 2, 2022
    Grand Jury Prize - Best Narrative Short
  • Newport Beach Film Festival
    Newport Beach, CA
    United States
    October 9, 2022
  • Mesa Film Festival
    Mesa, AZ
    United States
  • Cinema on the Bayou
    Lafayette, LA
    United States
    January 29, 2023
Director Biography - Angela Garcia Combs

Angela Garcia Combs is an award-winning writer/director who focuses on the female perspective while maintaining a light touch, a sharp wit and an accessible style. James Wegg (Rotten Tomatoes) says of Garcia Combs’ work: “Everything is done with such loving care and sense of style that the appetite is whetted for another chapter from this talented filmmaker.” Garcia Combs is the daughter of Mexican and Irish Southern Catholics and studied Directing at UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. She optioned her first screenplay, “A Better Mother” to Carlton America and was attached to direct “Random Acts” which was optioned by Henry Jaglom of Rainbow Films and RKO Pictures. Her feature, “Nothing Special” was curated by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences for their Permanent Core Collection and stars Karen Black in her last starring role. “Nothing Special” received international distribution and critical acclaim and had a successful festival run with twelve awards including Best Feature (the Female Eye), Creative Excellence in Direction (Iowa Independent), and Best Feature (Philadelphia International), and can be streamed on Hulu. Garcia Combs raised her three children as a single mother in Los Angeles where they attended public school. She is currently in development with her next project, a limited series for television, “Parent/Teacher” about the sisyphean task that burdens American public school teachers.

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Director Statement

America’s lack of social safety net has been laid bare by the pandemic and has even further exposed how basic survival is especially difficult for those with any “strike” against them, such as addiction. Since the opioid crisis and the cynical exploitation of patients by drug companies with their addictive pain killers, most people now understand that addiction is a disease that can affect anyone. American Dream puts the gig-work economy into that context to show how precarious the American ethos of rugged individualism really is.

When I read the script, I decided immediately that we needed to be close-up to the protagonist with wide lenses to provide a sense of vulnerability while capturing the context of place, so that we might glimpse the edges of her precarious world. The diversity of Los Angeles is not always reflected in films made about this city, so I knew I wanted the color palette, sounds and architecture of this film to represent the L.A. I experience and to reflect my own cultural sensibilities.

The sudden and arresting changes of circumstance from one street to another in this city reflect the American tapestry with all its color, pace and pulses, even as that gorgeous fabric is fraying at the edges and inward to the core. As we observe our protagonist working hard to scratch out a living in the gig economy while clinging to sobriety and her tiny thread of hope, we root for her and truly feel the ineffable draw and precarious reality of the American Dream. Enjoy!