Nuyorican Dream

Director: Laurie Collyer

Institute History

  • 2000 Sundance Film Festival


“The American Nightmare is the opposite of the Dream. I think you are a special person when you come out of the Nightmare. You become ultimately more in touch and resilient.” —Robert Torres

In an American media landscape offering few Puerto Rican stories, Nuyorican Dream makes an urgent and resounding arrival. Combining cinema vérité and personal documentary, director Laurie Collyer delivers a powerhouse of emotion and insight with this chronicle of the struggles and aspirations of three generations of the Marta Gutierrez family.

The film follows Robert Torres, Marta’s eldest son and the only one of his family to finish high school and college. College was supposed to lead to the American Dream, but the experience of transcending class has alienated Robert from his classmates and, ultimately, his family. Robert’s position between the worlds of school and the street lends the film a powerful double consciousness: a deeply personal and sympathetic view of his family and an incisive analysis of the effects of colonialism and poverty on Puerto Rican people.

Collyer’s camera captures harrowing images of a family in crisis: Sisters Beti and Tati struggle with devastating drug addictions, brother Danny spends half his life in prison, and mother Marta supports the entire extended family through welfare and selling homemade pasteles and used clothing on the street. However, what emerges most strongly about the Gutierrez clan is the fierce love and support that sustains the family. Nuyorican Dream is not just about making it, but about making it with the family intact.

— Shari Frilot

Screening Details

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