​​​​​​        ​​   NEW YORK
             INTERNATIONAL
IMMIGRATION FILM FESTIVAL

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1. DEDICATION - 23:34 - by Karan Choudhary (USA/INDIA) 
Synopsis : 
By following one man’s journey from India to New York City to fulfill his dream of becoming a working actor, “Dedication” explores the realities that immigrants have to face in an increasingly conservative America. 
 

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 Director's Bio:
Karan Choudhary, born and raised in Faridabad, India, is a New York actor and filmmaker. Before his move to New York, Karan worked as a model in Mumbai while studying theatre. He moved to New York in 2013 after being accepted to the famous Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre. Since that time, he has been seen in several TV commercials both national and regional and has also appeared in many indie projects. In 2017, Mr. Choudhary began making his own short films.
 
 

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2. ONE WAY - 20:55 - by Parisa Ghaderi (USA) 
 Synopsis:
'One way' is a short documentary about an Iranian couple who moved to the U.S. for higher education in 2013. They were separated since May 2015 after Mojde visited her family in Iran and couldn't return to the U.S., all because of U.S. visa regulations for Iranian students.

 

Director’s Bio:
Parisa Ghaderi, born in Tehran, Iran, is a visual artist and filmmaker, with a BA in Visual Communications and an MFA in Art and Design from the University of Michigan. She moved to the U.S. in 2009. Her artwork has been exhibited nationally and internationally. Ghaderi has made four short films: Still, Broken Glass, The Ones Who Loved Me Are Gone, and One Way. Still has been screened at various film festivals and won the International Award of Merit.
 

​​​3. EVEN IN HIS ABSENCE​​​ ​​​​​​​​​​3:53 by Kaveh Baghdadchi  (USA - student) 
Synopsis:
In this turbulent political climate, “Even in his Absence” focuses on the attributes that unite us, rather than divide us by exploring a rarely practiced facet of immigration’s aftermath— the assimilation of two cultures to share the same life. 

 

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Director’s Bio:
Kaveh Baghdadchi is an Iranian M.F.A. alumnus of the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, USA. Holding a B.S in Mechanical Engineering, he had been an experimental award-winning photographer, photography instructor and lecturer before starting his Graduate studies with a focus on Video and Short Film on migration at the University of Cincinnati. Through his short films, he digs into his own life as a Middle Eastern immigrant living around non-Middle Eastern people in the United States.

4. NATE FROM LOWEL - 7:07 - by LinDa Saphan (USA) 
Synopsis:
In Cambodia, popular music has yet to be recognized as part of cultural heritage. As there are no institutions that preserve, archive, and research lost and obscure popular music, an entire generation of musicians died along with an estimated 2 million people in the genocide committed by the Khmer Rouge from 1975-1979. Nate Hun, a collector of prewar Cambodian popular music since childhood, is at the heart of the Cambodian preservation movement.
 

Director's bio:
LinDa Saphan was born in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Fleeing the Khmer Rouge regime, later she relocated to Canada and France. As a visual artist, Dr. Saphan's work has been included in several collective exhibitions throughout Cambodia, Myanmar, Kenya, Hungary, Singapore, France, and the US. Saphan earned a PhD in Sociology from the Sorbonne in 2007. Saphanis also an associate producer and head researcher for the documentary film directed by John Pirozzi Don't Think I've Forgotten: Cambodia Lost Rock and Roll released in 2014. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the College of Mount Saint Vincent, NYC.
 
5. ILLEGAL ALIENS - 10:00 - by Justin+Kristin Schaack 
Synopsis:
Due to the recent arrival of undocumented immigrants, the city of Simpletown holds a special session city council meeting to determine if the town should officially ban the newcomers.
 


Directors bios: 
Justin & Kristin Schaack [that’s us] are a directing duo that have been making films together for over 15 years. We’re a married team that began our creative partnership in the theater waaaaaay-off-broadway: 6th grade, middle school productions. Many tell us that they cannot imagine working side-by-side with their spouse, but for us, we can’t imagine NOT working together. We even finish EACH OTHER’S SENTENCES.
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6. THE CHOCOLATE SOLDIER - 11:45 - by Jackson Smith  (USA - student) 
Synopsis: 
In post World War II Germany, 1945, Maria and her mother are forced out of their homes by violence and political upheaval, but manage to find work in the German countryside where Maria befriends an enemy American soldier. As their friendship develops, the American soldier teaches Maria and her family a lesson in compassion and humanity.
 

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Director’s bio:
Jackson Smith is a writer and filmmaker living in Los Angeles California. Growing up in a creative family, he became interested in storytelling at a young age. Since then, Jackson has directed several short films, co-created a webisode series, and written numerous screenplays. In May of 2017, he graduated with a degree in Film Production from Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. 
 
7. OUT OF THE SHADOWS -13:45 - by Amanda Hermans,  Caroline Olsen, Dominique Teoh (USA - student ) 
Synopsis: 
Following Cumbia band, Quinto Imperio, from Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood, “Out of the Shadows” tells the story of undocumented immigrants who are unapologetic and unafraid to fight for their future and the future of the often misunderstood community’s youth. 
 
Director’s bio:
Amanda Hermans is a writer, editor and aspiring documentary filmmaker with degrees in Journalism and International Studies from Northwestern University. She enjoys sharing inspiring and meaningful stories about environmental issues, social justice, and politics. 
Caroline Olsen is an aspiring documentary filmmaker and creative storyteller. With a degree in Journalism and Asian American Studies from Northwestern, she hopes to use her education to highlight the voices of those often pushed to the margins. 
Dominique Teoh is passionate about film and is currently exploring this medium as a means of affecting positive change. He is interested in questions of cultural identity, and the ways in which they arise in, and react to, the context of one’s environment. He is a student at Northwestern University, where he studies Radio/Television/Film, with a minor in Political Science
 

8. THE LONG RIDE - 01:17:10 - by Valerie Lapin Ganley (USA)
Synopsis:
“The Long Ride”, is a timely new documentary about the historic 2003 Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride that sparked the birth of the new Civil Rights Movement for immigrant workers in the United States.
 
Director’s Bio:
Valerie Lapin Ganley is filmmaker and activist. Her documentaries explore race, class, labor, and immigration with a focus on the challenges and benefits that diversity brings to society. 
Valerie’s most recent film, “The Long Ride” is about the historic 2003 Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride that sparked the new Civil Rights Movement for immigrant workers in America and the ongoing effort to fix the broken immigration system. Prior to becoming a filmmaker, Valerie was a Legislative Assistant working on Capitol Hill. Valerie serves on the Board of Irish Culture Bay Area, producer of the Irish Arts and Writers Festival; and as a screener for the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.
 
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 ​​9. FREEDOM STORIES - 01:39 - by Steve Tomas (Australia) 
Synopsis:
“Freedom Stories” is an explores the achievements and struggles of former “Boat People”.Now Australian citizens, they arrived seeking asylum from the Middle-East around 2001, a watershed year in Australian politics sparked by the Tampa affair and Prime Minister John Howard’s declaration, “We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come”.

Director’s Bio:
Steve Thomas is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and lecturer in documentary at eh
Victorian College of the Arts School of film and Television, University of Melbourne. His previous documentary feature Hope (2008) told story of Siev-X survivor Amal Basry. It won the Atom award for Best Social/political Documentary and was a finalist in the Australian Human Rights Awards and Australian Directors Guild Awards. Steve’s earlier films include Black Man’s Houses and Harold, ABC TV documentaries has won acclaimed Australian television awards.Steve’s interest in asylum seeker issues began with the making of Welcome to Woomera for ABC TV and Freedom Stories completes a trilogy dealing with this subject.

10. WALKING THE WALK - 32:38 - by Moses Tulasi (India)
Synopsis: 
“Walking the Walk” follows the participants of Hyderabad’s Swabhimana (self-respect) Queer Pride March in February 2015, protesting the brutal murder of a trans woman named Pravallika. This film demonstrates how a collective of activists do more than preach; they set into motion a political movement that celebrates small successes, demands resources for working-class transgender people, stands up to police violence, and allows the community to grieve for lost loved ones.
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Director’s Bio:
Hailing from the state of Telangana, India, Moses had always been keen on films with social relevance. While living in the US, Moses had served on the board of Trikone-Chicago, a support group for LGBT individuals of South Asian heritage and allies. In the winter of 2014, Moses took a sabbatical and traveled to India, tracing his roots back, in search of a socially relevant subject for his first film. Moses was inspired to give a platform to socio-politically charged queer rights movement in the city of Hyderabad. This is how the film Walking the Walk was made.
 
 ​11. FROM THE LAND OF GANDHI - 48:50 - by Prakash  Wadhwa  (USA)
Synopsis
Throught the story of 4 immigrants a decade after they arrived to the United States "From the Land of Gandhi" explores the broken hight-skilled immigration system, and highlights the need for the reforming America's hightskilled immigration system at a time of intense globalization and the retirement of the baby boomres.  
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12. BELGIAC - 13:09 - by Eva Depoorter (Belgium)   
Synopsis:
On the brink of a new life together, Charlie ignores Nicki's pleas to let go of her past, succumbing to the soothing pull of petrifying nostalgia.
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Director’s Bio:
Eva Depoorter is a Belgian video artist who lives and works in New York. Her videos are provocative and visceral vignettes that stimulate the viewer to surrender to what (s)he is exposed to. As a buffer against complete subjection, Eva offers an alternative to reality and invites the audience to roam the absurdist fantasy land she inhabits. Belgiac is Depoorter's first short film.
13. MARIA - 25:56 - by Shiri Paamony Eshel (USA Student)  
Synopsis:
As 18-year-old Maria, daughter of Mexican immigrants from Bronx, New York, is constantly moving from housing projects to shelters, her hope for a better future fades. Isolated during her high school years, Maria falls victim to depression; however, she keeps her faith through writing poetry.
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Director’s bio: 
I am a director, videographer, editor, and photographer; skills which I have acquired over the past 18 years, beginning with commercial TV in Israel and developed during my travels as a cultural project manager rural areas, mostly in Africa.
I obtained my Master in documentary film at the NY School of Visual Arts in 2016. 
I strongly believe in the importance of documenting and promoting all global cultural and social aspects, and what fascinates me most are indigenous cultures, whether extinct or still existing, and generally inspiring stories of major breakthroughs, whether physical, emotional, spiritual or other. As long as there is a story to tell, all the more so if the story is one that shines a light on how to make this world a better place. 
 
14. GEORGIAN BREAD - 20:00 - by Katie Orjonikidze-Casey (USA Student)
Synopsis:
Legendary Georgian actor Kakhi Kavsadze plays George, an immigrant who, despite his age and distance from his country, tries to work hard and keep up with his traditions and dignity. The story takes place in Brooklyn, where we find young businessman Michael struggling to keep his bakery business going. Even thought he deeply loves and respects George, he has the opportunity to swap his cozy little Georgian bakery for a sushi place that will be more profitable for his business. 
  ​NANA - 30:00 - by Katie Orjonikidze-Casey (USA Student) 
Synopsis: 
A kind hearted immigrant woman from Georgia who came to the United State to work and support her family, fights supernatural forces to keep her job and save the patient.  At the same time “Nana” is the story, which teaches that true love has no boundaries and cannot be stopped by time or distance. 
Director's Bio: 
Katie Orjonikidze-Casey, is award winning director, writer and producer. Katie got her Master’s in Journalism back in her country, Georgia, at Tbilisi State University, and has been a political reporter over 10 years. When she came to the USA, she started writing stories about immigrants, publishing them in various magazines and newspapers. At the same time she attended Directing and Producing classes at NYU. Later she got BA in Art, majoring in Film Production at CUNY Brooklyn College. 
 
15. ANNISA 2002 - 48:00 by  Fabienne Facco (France )   
Synopsis:
During summer holiday, Anissa, a 16-year-old schoolgirl, is being taken by her parents to Morocco to get married. Opposed to the idea, she runs away during the trip and meets two English guys who are restoring an old house.. 
 
Director’s Bio:
Fabienne Facco is a French writer and director. She started her career in 1995 writing sitcoms and famous cop shows on French TV, PJ, RIS, and today Candice Renoir. She made her first short movie in 1998 called The Postwoman, an un-romantic comedy. her next film, Prettiest than Sharon Stone, is about exploring women psychology. In 2008, she formed a production company, Menage à Trois Productions, with two female associates. She made Anissa 2002 in 2015 and was a nominee for Best International Film at the Cristal Palace Film Festival in London and Best Actress in a Feature for Natacha Krief at the Women in Film International Film Festival in Vancouver.
 
16. "16/03" - 01:59:04 - by Darren Danny (UK) 
Synopsis:
Still haunted by the chemical attacks that claimed the lives of his family in 1988, Mr. Apple, a Kurdish man and an asylum seeker, flees his homeland and enters the United Kingdom, integrating into the film industry; however, during filming of an action scene. the set is attacked by actual terrorists and he’s implicated into the world of political traders.
Director’s Bio:
Danny Darren, also known as Halmat Salah, was born in the small village of Kallakan, a few miles far from the city of Qaladze, and part of the Iraqi Kurdistan region. In 2002, Darren fled his homeland, where he walked thousands of miles to find a better life—It was the most horrifying experience of his life. Darren was influenced by many cultures when writing books, and scripts in which he plays the different characters he comes across in his journey; in addition to writing and acting, Darren participates in charity events. He plans to transcribe his adventures in his next book.


17. THREE TREMBLING CITIES - 01:30:00 - by Arthur Vincie (USA)                                                                                                                                        
Synopsis:
Tree Trembling Cities follows two immigrant narratives— one struggling to understand their identity, and the other struggling to survive— which ultimately interweave. Their stories are intercut with documentary interviews of real immigrants with parallel experiences.
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Director’s Bio:
Arthur Vincie recently wrote and directed the fiction web-series Three Trembling Cities about the inner lives and daily struggles of NYC immigrants. It has won awards at the Brooklyn, Toronto, and UK Webfests, the Baltimore New Media Festival, and the Philly TV Festival. His feature, Found in Time, which participated in 27 festivals and won 7 awards, is available on VOD and BluRay. Focal Press published his non-fiction book on pre-production, Preparing for Takeoff. Arthur also line produced over a dozen features and numerous industrials, pilots, and music videos.
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18. RETORNADOS - 17:00 - by Sarah M Kuck, Meredith Hoffman 
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Synopsis:
Retornados is a short documentary about three families who have been forced to return to Honduras, and the extremely violent conditions they fled. Moving through the restless streets of the unstable capital city, and into the drama and determination of each family’s story, the film explores the experience of being returned to a familiar, yet increasingly unsafe situation.

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Director’s Bios:
Meredith Hoffman is an Austin-based journalist who focused her reporting on immigration, contributing to Rolling Stone, the New York Times, VICE, and Slate. She most recently worked for the Associated Press covering the Texas legislative session. Meredith has also reported from throughout Latin America and received a fellowship from the International Center for Journalists to do a series of VICE articles on Millennial refugees in Germany. She received her B.A. in English from Cornell University and her M.A. in journalism at New York University.​​
Sarah Kuck is an Austin-based freelance videographer. She has spent the last six years honing her skills as a camera operator by collaborating on a variety of documentary, narrative and commercial projects. Her first documentary, Even the Walls, won best short film at the Seattle International Film Festival in 2015. Most recently, she worked as the director of photography for Retornados (2017), a short film on asylum-seekers escaping violence in Honduras.
 
 ​​​​​​ 19. HOME SWEET HOME - 57:16 - by Vallotton Aurélien (Switzerland)
Synopsis:
 On January 12, 2010, after an earthquake devastates the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince and its surrounding outskirts, Haitians living abroad return to live in their home country and begin the reconstruction process. Through various perspectives, “Home Sweet Home” explores the perception and consequences of those Haitians returning home, and their position in the redevelopment of Port-au-Prince.

Director’s Bio:
Born in 1989 in Lausanne, Switzerland, Aurélien Vallotton attended the preparatory year of the Ecole de Photographie in Vevey and then entered the Geneva Film School, where he obtained a diploma in Film Direction in 2010. In 2011, he was hired by the regional television La Télé, first as a cameraman and then as a director. In 2013, he joined the Swiss National Television (RTS) as a cameraman on a part-time basis, enabling him to continue his career as a television director, as consultant or as film director for his first documentary project, Lakay Se Lakay.
 ​​​​20. BEHIND THE WOODS ADN ACROSS THE SEA - 20:00 - by Douglas Phillips (USA)
Synopsis:
Born in the Russian Empire, 16-year-old Owen Phillips arrived in America alone, with nothing. When his grandson Douglas visits his home village more than a century later, he learns things that Owen never knew.
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Director’s Bio:
Douglas Phillips lives in Northern Virginia, outside Washington, D.C. Born and raised in the American Midwest, he became close to his paternal grandfather, Owen Phillips, who immigrated to the United States at the age of 16 from the Russian Empire and eventually settled in Indianapolis, Indiana. Doug interviewed Owen on audiotape in the early 1970s, interviewed others who knew Owen in later years, and did further research for this documentary on visits to the Republic of Belarus in 2014, 2016, and 2017.
 21. LAND OF FATE - 01:11 - by Janis Ozolins (Spain) 
Synopsis:
The devastating impact of Stalinism and WWII on the Latvian people told through the fate of one family now living in three different countries and speaking three different languages.

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Director’s Bio:
Born in the Republic of Latvia, Jānis Ozoliņš-Ozols, is a connoisseur of the visual world, working in theater, television, short film, and documentary. His early focus was on Latvian television, where he made and presented several television programs, and began to make several works of video art which he calls video-provocation. Ozolins-Ozols is an UNESCO collaborator in various works to promote Spanish culture around the world. His documentary “With Spain in the Heart” led him to festivals throughout Europe, from Spain to Sweden. His short film “Photo” was selected in the Berlin and the Moscow Film Festival.
 ​​22.  SIBLINGS - 4:05 - by Olga Goister (USA) 
Synopsis:
When a brother and sister are faced with being split apart at a Ukrainian orphanage, they take it upon themselves to decide their future.
 

Director’s Bio:
Originally from Ukraine, Goister is a film producer who had worked on small wedding video productions and big budget feature films. She lives in New York and is currently editing her new short film that she shot in Las Vegas in March.

 
23. ENGLISH - 5:28 by Amanda Quaid ( USA)
Synopsis: 
A woman immigrates to America to give her son a better life; but, will his rapid assimilation leave her behind?

                                              
Director’s Bio: 
Amanda Quaid is an actor, writer, and filmmaker from New York City. 
 
24. DAY IN THE LIFE OF WHO - 15:00 - by A. Negbenebor Sela 
Synopsis: 
Lucy has made up her mind, she's going back to her homeland to find the brother she and her mom left behind when they fled to the United States. There's just one tiny hiccup: he fled too, and lives as a homeless man in the same city as she does.
 
Director’s Bio:
Aimiende Negbenebor Sela hails from Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria. After being adopted by a wonderful Jewish family in the Bronx, Sela earned a B.E in Computer Engineering and a B.A. in Literature from Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ. Deciding to pursue her true passion, screenwriting and filmmaking. Aimiende created Sela Films to carry out a specific mission, opening eyes to parts of the world not usually observed, and pushed the boundaries of innovation, inclusion, diversity, and creativity. Her four short film projects (Asa, A Beautiful Girl, A Day in the Life of Who, Blind Date, and Utopia) are all aimed at this specific goal.
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25.  ALL ABOUT EMILY - 8:00 - by Valentina casadei (France) 
Synopsis:
A modest housekeeper keeps being bullied by a hysterical bourgeois for no apparent reason. Forced to endure these abuses to avoid being sent back to Cuba, she makes a discovery that will change everything.
 

Director's Bio:
Born in Ravenna, Italy, Valentina Casadei is a graduate of DAMS University and obtained her Masters in screenwriting and directing at EICAR (International Film School of Paris). She has directed two short films, All About Emily (2016) and Blessed Days (2017), both of which have been selected in numerous international film festivals. In parallel to cinema, she has interest in photography, art history, poetry and jazz.


 26. FULL SEVICE - 15:00 - by KPage Stuart Valdes (USA) 
Synopsis:
Abike, a Nigerian born oil industry executive, is driving to a friend's house when she realizes her tank is needling towards empty. She pulls into the only station she can find where she is greeted by Scott, a local who inherited his business from his grandfather. She patiently dissects his assumptions about her life with humor and gravity before leaving him to ponder their commonalties and her power.

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Director’s Bio:
KPage Stuart Valdes is a New York-based filmmaker, writer, educator, and musician. She has received fellowships and commissions from such places as Yaddo, and Tisch School of the Arts. She holds a BFA in Acting from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and an MFA from their Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program where she wrote both words and music. Her music has been presented by Brooklyn Academy of Music, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and in countless smaller clubs. She has worked in progressive education as an arts educator, teacher coach, social and emotional learning specialist, and project manager.
27. IN EXILE: A FAMILY FILM - ​​02:03:48 - by Juan Francisco Urrusti Alonso (Mexico) 
Synopsis: 
The wrongly-termed Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) left morethan a million dead and over 500 thousand refugees, of whichsome 20 thousand are taken in by Mexico. Among them were
the filmmaker’s grandparents, parents, aunt, and some of their friends. A tragedy of epic dimension that turned into the eventful stories of survival and venture the protagonists lived
through and recall, intertwined with the shared history of Spain and Mexico in the XXth century –and beyond.


Direcotr's Bio:
He has been a teacher of Documentary at the Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica (CCC) in Mexico City, since 1989, and at the Centro Universitario de Estudios Cinematográficos (CUEC/UNAM) since 2016. Urrusti has given lectures and workshops in several Mexican cities, and also in universities in Brazil, Colombia, Nicaragua, Spain, and the USA.