About Underwater Dreams

About the Film

Underwater Dreams, written and directed by Mary Mazzio, and narrated by Michael Peña, is an epic story of how the sons of undocumented Mexican immigrants learned how to build an underwater robot from Home Depot parts. And defeat engineering powerhouse MIT in the process.

This is how it transpired. Two energetic high school science teachers, on a whim, decided to enter their high school, a Title I school where most of the students live in poverty, into a sophisticated underwater robotics competition sponsored by the NASA and the Office of Naval Research, among others. Only four boys signed up for the competition, but once assembled, with enthusiasm and verve, they started calling oceanic engineers and military contractors for design help. They were advised that their underwater robot would require glass syntactic flotation foam. Short on money, all they could afford was PVC pipe from Home Depot.  And some duct tape.

After a few test runs of their robot (aptly named Stinky), the team was confident that they would not come in last at the event, so they all piled into a beat up van to head to the competition.  The boys entered the main pool area, seeing college teams in matching gear, with robots sponsored by the likes of Exxon Mobil. Feeling a bit overwhelmed, the boys put Stinky in the water for a test run.  Only the PVC did not hold up. The robot leaked. And sunk.

The boys put their heads together and hilariously came up with a brilliant solution. 12 hours later, armed with 8 super-plus tampons to plug the leak in Stinky’s mechanical housing, the robot was lowered into the pool again.  Only this time, Stinky performed admirably.

Fast forward to a shocking result. This rag-tag high school team of undocumented Mexican boys did what no one thought possible. The competition, however, was only the beginning. These boys forged a legacy that could not have been imagined.

Narrated by Michael Peña. Written and Directed by Mary Mazzio. Funded by the Bezos Family Foundation and the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, with additional support from Babson College, the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust and others. Executive Producers: Michael Peña, Laurie Tisch, Jackie Bezos, Mike Bezos, John H. Carlson, Hope Pascucci, Mike Pascucci, Jeb Bush, Jr., Stephanie Hunt, Hunter Hunt, Christine Vachon, Sanjay Rawal, and Sarah Lenti.

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STARTING SEPTEMBER 1, 2014 - Everywhere.  AMC Theatres will, free of charge, host up to 100 community screenings across the U.S. to enable school and non-profit groups to enjoy the film on the big screen this summer and fall.  (If you represent a community group, non-profit, or school and can gather at least 100 people for a screening, please click the AMC logo below to request a screening. All requests must be submitted by October 1, 2014 and all screenings must happen by October 15, 2014.  Limited to the first 100 qualified requests. Include name and type of organization, requested dates, and number of kids.

Request a Screening

JULY 18 – AUGUST 1, 2014
PhoenixDue to  demand, extended through August 1
JULY 11-17, 2014
New York and Los Angeles
AMC Empire 25 – NYC
AMC Burbank 6

JULY 20 , 2014:  Special presentation of a television version of the film, broadcast simultaneously in English and Spanish on MSNBC and Telemundo  at 1pm EST.  July 21 on mun2.


September 30, 2014 - Atlanta GA
Hosted by the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. With Mary Mazzio, Fredi Lajvardi, and Lorenzo Santillan.


September 18, 2014 – Washington DC.  The team was honored at the 2014 Hispanic Heritage Awards, along with Zoe Saldana and Pepe Aguilar.

August 7, 2014 - Boston, MA
Hosted by the MA Govenor’s STEM Council. With Congressman Joe Kennedy and Jeb Bush, Jr.

JULY 20, 2014 - Los Angeles, CA
Hosted by The National Council of La Raza .

JULY 17, 2014 – San Francisco, CA
Hosted by The US Chamber of Commerce .

JULY 11, 2014 - New York, NY
Hosted by AMC Theaters, NBCUniversal and the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund.  With Michael Pena.

JULY 8, 2014 - Princeton, NJ
Hosted by The LULAC Convention .

JULY 1, 2014 - Aspen, CO
Hosted by the Aspen Ideas Festival. Jonathan Alter (NBC) moderating.

JUNE 23, 2014 - Denver, CO
Hosted by Clinton Global Initiative. Chelsea Clinton moderating and Governor Hickenlooper making remarks.

JUNE 21, 2014 - Austin, TX
Hosted by the National PTA and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation.

JUNE 5, 2014 - Washington, DC
Hosted by the US Chamber of Commerce.

APRIL 29, 2014 - Washington, DC
Hosted by the Center for American Progress, the National Immigration Forum, and FWD.us