The New Americans

A diverse group of immigrants and refugees leave their home and families behind and learn what it means to be new Americans in the 21st century.

Film Signature Image
Independent Lens, Global Voices
Premiere Date
March 29, 2004
420 minutes
Funding Initiative
Series and Special Projects
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2003 International Documentary Association (IDA)-Best Limited Series, Distinguished Documentary Achievement Awards
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    2004 Chicago International Television Competition-Chicago Award for Best Chicago or Illinois Production
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    2004 Chicago International Television Competition-Gold Hugo for Best Overall Production
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    2005 TV/Cable Category-Christopher Award
  • Producer

    Gordon Quinn

    Artistic Director and founding member of Kartemquin Films, 2007 recipient of the MacArthur award for Creative and Effective Institutions, Gordon Quinn has been making documentaries for more than 40 years. His producing credits include such award-winning and highly acclaimed films as Hoop Dreams; Vietnam, Long Time Coming; Golub; 5 Girls; Refrigerator Mothers; Stevie, Show more for which he won the Cinematography Award at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival; and The New Americans (for which h also directed the Palestinian segment). Most recently, Quinn executive produced Mapping Stem Cell Research: Terra Incognita; At The Death House Door; Milking the Rhino; In the Family; and Typeface, as well as directing a film on delayed posttraumatic stress syndrome, Prisoner of Her Past. Show less


    Gita Saedi Kiely

    Gita Saedi was series producer for the Independent Lens series The New Americans, and producer of the Nigerian episode in that series. Saedi is an award-winning independent documentary producer/director who has been working in film for more than 12 years. She has been on producing teams for Channel 4 in the United Kingdom, CBS and PBS in the United States, Show more and RTE in Ireland. Her projects include 24 short films for the JFK Museum in Boston; No Time to be a Child, a three-part PBS series on children and violence; The Tourist Trap, a four-part documentary about cultural differences shot in Turkey; and a multi-part series on Celtic heritage produced in Ireland. Other documentary credits include coordinating Jack, a CBS Emmy-award winning feature-length documentary about John F. Kennedy; prime-time holiday specials for CBS Entertainment; and field producing Journey Towards Peace, a PBS documentary chronicling a peace mission in Senegal headed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and John Hope Franklin. Saedi has won numerous awards and festivals for her independent short Everybody Nose. She received an Emmy nomination for directing short vignettes for the regional series Artbeat. Show less


    Steve James

    Steve James is best known as the award-winning director, producer, and co-editor of Kartemquin's Hoop Dreams, which won every major critics award as well as a Peabody and Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award in 1995. The film earned Steve the Directors Guild of America Award, The MTV Movie Awards "Best New Filmmaker," and an Oscar nomination for editing. Hoop Dreams Show more was selected for the Library of Congress's National Film Registry, signifying the film's enduring importance to American film history. Steve's other award-winning films produced with Kartemquin include Stevie, winner of major festival awards at Sundance, Amsterdam, Yamagata, and Philadelphia; the PBS series, The New Americans, which won the prestigious 2004 International Documentary Association Award for Best Limited Series; At the Death House Door, which won numerous festivals and was Steve's fourth film to be officially short-listed for the Academy Award; and No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson for ESPN Films' International Documentary Association-winning series 30 for 30.The Interrupters is Steve's sixth film in partnership with Kartemquin and his fifth film to play at the Sundance Film Festival. The film will be broadcast on PBS's Frontline in late 2011. Steve's other work includes The War Tapes, which he produced and edited, and which won the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival Grand Prize. Show less

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    The Film

    What does the “American dream” look like through the eyes of today's immigrants and refugees? From Nigeria, India, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, they come with different dreams: to achieve athletic glory or high-tech riches, to escape poverty and persecution, to provide for their families. This seven-part series follows these newcomers from each of their homelands through their first tumultuous years in America.