Dreams from My Real Father

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Dreams from My Real Father
Directed by Joel Gilbert
Produced by Joel Gilbert
Written by Joel Gilbert
Narrated by Ed Law[1]
Music by Wayne Peet
Edited by Paul Belanger
Joel Gilbert
Highway 61 Entertainment
Distributed by MVD Visual
Release dates
  • July 24, 2012 (2012-07-24)
Running time
95 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Dreams from My Real Father: A Story of Reds and Deception is a 2012 American documentary-style film by Joel Gilbert which claims that U.S. President Barack Obama's biological father was Communist Party USA activist Frank Marshall Davis.[2][3] The title derived from the title of Obama's memoir Dreams from My Father.


The film claims that Barack Obama's biological father was the "poet and left-wing activist" Frank Marshall Davis and that Davis met Obama's mother Ann Dunham through her father Stanley Dunham, whom Gilbert claims was not a furniture salesman, but actually a CIA agent tasked with monitoring Communists in Hawaii.[4]

Filmmaker Joel Gilbert said the film was the result of two years of research. He claims he found nude and fetish photos of Obama's mother Ann Dunham, which he says were taken in late 1960 by Frank Marshall Davis in Davis' Hawaii home. Gilbert compared these to Dunham's high school pictures and says he found the correlation to be "obvious". The Hollywood Reporter said, "He did not use an expert, however, to support his finding."[4]

Gilbert says that over one million copies of his film were mailed to voters in Iowa, Ohio, Nevada, New Hampshire and Colorado in the time leading up to the 2012 United States presidential election. He refused to disclose who funded the film's distribution, and a report by The Daily Beast pointed out that there was no way to verify the numbers claimed by Gilbert.[3]


Critical reaction to the film was largely negative, with the exception of some conservative commentators and a Republican Party official who praised the film: Bill Armistead, the chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, endorsed the film and called its theory "absolutely terrifying".[5] WorldNetDaily's Jerome Corsi accepted the film's photographic claims and called the film's case "compelling".[6] Jack Cashill, also a WorldNetDaily contributor, called the film "the most fascinating video treatment of the Obama story that I have yet to see."[7] However, even amongst staunch conservatives, the reaction was not uniformly positive. Some believers in the Birther theory, such as Orly Taitz, disliked the film, since it claims Obama's father was an American, albeit a Communist.[8]

In focus group testing conducted by Republican research analyst Frank Luntz to gauge reactions to three anti-Obama documentaries prior to the November 2012 U.S. elections, the 30-member test audience shown the film was described as "revolted" by it. The other two films were Dinesh D'Souza's 2016: Obama's America (negatively received), and The Hope and the Change, by Citizens United (positively received). Luntz described his clients' motivation for including the film in his study as "want[ing] to know if it's as bad as [they] think it is."[9]

David Maraniss, author of Barack Obama: The Story, called the film "preposterous", saying that it is "depressing to have so much fictional, unreported, conspiratorial, unhistorical stuff floating around." Among anti-Obama productions, Maraniss said "This DVD is the worst of the bunch."[2]

The Daily Beast said, "It's tempting to ignore Dreams from My Real Father because it's so preposterous... What matters here is not that a lone crank made a vulgar conspiracy video, one that outdoes even birther propaganda in its lunacy and bad taste. It’s that the video is finding an audience on the right."[3] Slate said, "Like the best Obama conspiracy theories, the pretense is that the president is hiding something in plain sight."[10]

Steve Murphy, a Democratic consultant, said, "It's about the lowest thing you can do to accuse, with no evidence, the opposition candidate's mother of being a porn star... There are two motives behind this – racism and money. It's a cynical attempt to make some coin and exploit the views of the fringes of mainstream views."[4]

Of the ad for the film in the New York Post, one Businessweek writer wrote: "The ad's one irrefutable claim is that the DVD is topping Amazon[.com]’s documentary sales. With few exceptions, reviewers are giving it five stars and gushing reviews. They give less credence to some of Gilbert's other films, including Elvis Found Alive and Paul McCartney Really Is Dead."[11]


  1. ^ Tapson, Mark (Aug 14, 2012). "Dreams from My Real Father: A Story of Reds and Deception". frontpagemag.com. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Stratton, Jim (October 18, 2012). "Anti-Obama DVD floods local mailboxes". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved October 19, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c Goldberg, Michelle (September 28, 2012). "With ‘Dreams from My Real Father,’ Have Obama Haters Hit Rock Bottom?". The Daily Beast. Retrieved October 3, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c Staff (September 28, 2012). "New Anti-Obama Film Claims His Mother Posed for Nude Photos". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 3, 2012. 
  5. ^ Rayfield, Jillian (September 20, 2012). "Alabama GOP chairman goes birther". Salon. Retrieved October 3, 2012. 
  6. ^ Corsi, Dr. Jerome (2012-04-25). "FILM: PRESIDENT'S FATHER NOT BARACK OBAMA – 2 years of research, rare photos support compelling case". 
  7. ^ Cashill, Jack (May 15, 2012). "Now about Obama's Teenage Years!". American Thinker. 
  8. ^ Reilly, Ryan J. (May 16, 2012). "Batty ‘Birther’ Movie Divides Conspiracy Diehards". Talking Points Memo. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  9. ^ Jeremy W. Peters (October 23, 2012). "Strident Anti-Obama Messages Flood Key States". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-10-26. 
  10. ^ Weigel, David (October 1, 2012). "Will the Latest Obama Conspiracy Help Him Win Ohio?". Slate. Retrieved October 3, 2012. 
  11. ^ Julian Sancton (September 11, 2012). "'New York Post' Runs Boldest Anti-Obama Ad Yet". Businessweek. Retrieved 2012-10-04. 

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