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.

See the film


Watch now.








On Epix


White House – Screening at the White House to launch National Robotics Week.

Viacom/EPIX – Screening at MPAA headquarters in Washington, D.C.  Congressmen Joe Kennedy, Tony Cardenas, and Joaquin Castro in attendance.

The Colbert Report – Mary Mazzio and Oscar Vazquez appear on The Colbert Report.

Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) – Screening with Chelsea Clinton moderating and Governor Hickenlooper making remarks.

AMC Theatres – Premieres hosted by AMC Theatres, NBCUniversal, and the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund in New York, Phoenix and Los Angeles to kick off the theatrical release of the film. Michael Pena and Mary Mazzio in attendance.   AMC also hosted  community screenings across the U.S. to enable school and non-profit groups to enjoy the film on the big screen throughout 2014 and 2015.

Aspen Ideas Festival – Screening moderated by Jonathan Alter (NBC).

White HouseUnderwater Dreams team invited to the 2014 and 2015 White House Science fair.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce (Silicon Valley) – Screening with Mary Mazzio and Jeb Bush, Jr. in attendance.

Google – Screening at their Mountainview headquarters for employees and local schools.

Center for American Progress – Screening hosted by CAP, the National Immigration Forum, and FWD.us. Mary Mazzio and Jeb Bush, Jr. in attendance.

Target – Screening at their Minneapolis headquarters for employees and educators.

The Duke Endowment – Screening hosted by Davidson College and Red Ventures.

MSNBC/TELEMUNDO – Special presentation of television version of the film, broadcast simultaneously in English and Spanish  in July, 2014.