Potato Dreams of America is a feature length film making its premiere at the South By Southwest Film Festival. However, this is not Potato’s first trip to SXSW. In 2017, Wes Hurley’s short Little Potato won the Grand Jury Award for documentary short. Hurley’s autobiographical story now returns as a full length film filled with dancing, vivid colors, and a story within a story. Funny and inspiring, Potato Dreams of America is a film about identity, imagination, and freedom.
Writer and director Wes Hurley tells the story of his childhood in Russia. The Iron Curtain is falling, but the mentality has not changed. Potato and his mother Lena, a prison doctor, yearn for a life where they do not live in fear of the government. Lena risks it all to be a mail order bride and find hope for them in Portland Oregon.
Hurley’s directing and styling are as sharp as his wit. Part fantasy, part musical, a bleak story is told that is both whimsical and moving. The writing is clever and makes Potato a strong yet sensitive character. Potato’s imagination gets the best of him and he spends his time watching Jean Claude Van Dam movies with his imaginary friend Jesus Christ. Jesus is laid back and is a supportive friend, despite his television addiction.
The film is creative and it makes some subtle changes when moving the film from Russia to America. The choices are inventive and keep the tone light despite the serious nature. Hurley’s story of Potato and his mother is impactful and shows the selflessness of family. A wonderful cast and quirky story will endear audiences to Potato’s journey. Potato Dreams of America shows how pride in yourself is more important than pride in a nationality.
SXSW is March 16 – March 20. Tickets and a full lineup can be found here.
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