On February 25th, our film “The Resettled” – which reveals the struggles faced by refugees resettled in America – screened at the 14th Big Sky Film Festival in Missoula, Montana, before an audience of roughly 100 avid documentary film fans.
It was shown in the festival’s Political Refugee Shorts Block, which presented different aspects of the refugee experience in Greece, Canada, and the United States. Director Alan Thompson was in attendance and reports that after the screening of his film at the end of the block, there was a definite tension in the room.
“The Resettled” ends with a reading of “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus – The famous sonnet engraved on a plaque inside the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor, whose parting words are a moving tribute to acceptance and inclusion:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
This poignant message, given the political climate in the USA today and its decreasing acceptance of refugees, was not lost on the people in the auditorium. In Alan’s view, the silence that ensued was, “as if the audience, seeing all of these shorts in the block, were hit with a ton of emotion.”
Everyone stayed for the Q&A period that followed, curious about his motivation for making the film, and intrigued to learn about Tzu Chi’s humanitarian aid for refugees globally. As the event drew to a close, one viewer approached Alan to share in private:
Indeed, at Tzu Chi USA, it’s our mission to make thought-provoking films that lead to self-reflection, because the path to positive changes in society begins in our hearts, and each of us bears equal responsibility for the outcome.
You can also watch the entire “The Resettled” documentary series where refugees from Iraq, Vietnam and Burma, the Congo, and Liberia share their riveting stories of escape and finding safe haven in a foreign land, then the challenging journey of building a better future for themselves and the next generation.