Last night I was privileged to see a special screening of the film “Imperial Dreams,” hosted by the San Diego Foundation at the Illumina Theater in Torrey Pines. Based on a true story, the film documents the journey of Bambi, a twenty-one-year-old African American man, who has just been released from prison, and his daily struggle to build a new life for himself and his five-year-old son. Without any financial resources or place to live, Bambi is forced to return to his family in the hood, where he is surrounded by drug dealing and violent gang activity. Determined to be free of a life of crime, Bambi tries to do everything right, but runs into barriers at every turn. The film vividly brings to light the challenges formerly incarcerated individuals face and the broken systems desperately in need of change. The story is truly heartbreaking in parts, but also inspiring in the love Bambi has for his young son and the hope he refuses to let die.

Writer-director Malik Vitthal spoke after the film and told how he met “Bobby” in Watts five years ago and how Bobby entered the criminal justice system at age fourteen. Malik was inspired to tell his story and was especially moved by the love that Bobby had for his family, a love that had to be lived in the moment because of the uncertainty of life the next day.  Malik says, “This film is an intimate, visceral, authentic look into a broken home, which mirrors an entire generation – and how they patch it all back together.  Above all, Imperial Dreams is about learning to muster the resolve to establish your own identity and your own sphere of love, safety and compassion even when everything around you remains in chaos.” The film won the Sundance Best of NEXT Audience Award and stars John Boyega, who was cast in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” shortly after appearing in Imperial Dreams.

A special thank you to the San Diego Foundation for providing this exceptional event. The foundation is seeking to shed light on recidivism rates and ways to improve the criminal justice system.

I highly recommend this film! It will touch your heart!!!

To see more about Imperial Dreams, please go to their Facebook page:

Aleida with writer and director Malik Vitthal