Yehuda Sharim is a scholar, filmmaker, and an Assistant Professor in the Program of Global Art Studies, University of California, Merced. He directed three films, we are in it (2016), and Lessons In Seeing (2017). His latest work, Seeds of All Things (2018), is a an intimate depiction of the first few months in the life of a family who was forced to leave Iran and arrive in the USA just a few weeks before the 2016 elections. His films, which appeared in various film festivals and universities across the world, provide a comparative study of immigration and displacement, shedding light on the changing constructions of home, nation, and belonging.
His book manuscript, co-authored with Yan Digilov, We Are In It: An Anthology of Border Crossing, presents personal accounts by refugees and those who seek refuge without documentation. Comprised of interviews in monologue form, their stories reveal the fear, trauma, and resilience of immigrants and refugees in Houston, TX. Additionally, his report, co-authored with Yan Digilov, titled Refugee Realities: Between National Challenges and Local Responsibilities, published by the Kinder Institute for Urban Research (July, 2018), is an attempt to historicize and trace the changes and politics that have shaped refugee resettlement programs in the USA. Sharim is the co-founder of Houston in Motion: Empowering Houston Refugee Communities, a multimedia project that provides a window into the lives and experiences of immigrant and refugee communities.
Previously, she edited We Are In It (2016) and co-edited Lessons in Seeing (2017). Vandersnick’s passion comes from a desire to work within and for Houston's immigrant communities and those who seek to be recognized beyond labels. Her work with Houston in Motion allows her to expand these possibilities and create lasting impact through collaborations and the most beautiful moments of empowerment within the city’s different communities.
Abbigail Vandersnick is a multi-media artist working within frames of film, photography, sound art, installations, and writing. She graduated in 2015 from the University of Illinois at Chicago with Bachelors in Fine Arts, and moved to Houston, Texas, later in the same year. She has worked as a director, screenwriter, cinematographer, and editor on various short films.
Yan Digilov is Chief Strategist of The Firestarter Group, a non-profit located in Houston that focuses on social investment. He has a degree in economics and mathematics from Rice University. Yan is also a leader in the Houston in Motion collaboration, a multi-media project that provides a window into the lives and experiences of refugee communities in Houston. Coming to the US as a refugee from the former Soviet Union, he has become a powerful advocate for reform in the process of resettlement. Yan has a deep interest in decentralized blockchain technologies, especially as they pertain to applications for better valuing the contributions of migrant communities. Seeds of All Things is his third documentary feature production.
We are in it features visceral scenes from the everyday lives of Karla, Serges, Hussein, Nancy and Tutu. For all of them, Houston is their common space of struggle, pleasure, and shelter. For them, Houston is a second, third or even fourth city of residence, both home and metropolis of hostility. Here, they are safe, restless, part of a diaspora that struggles to find meaning beyond labels of foreigner, immigrant, undocumented, alien, and refugee.
Filmed in Houston, Texas
Running Time: 107min
Digital Frame rate 23.976
Screening format: DCP
Language: English, Arabic, Burmese, Swahili
Subtitles: English and Spanish
When the elderly math teacher, Sibhatleab, ventures alone from a refugee camp in Ethiopia, he finds himself at the bottom rung of the social ladder in a vast, faceless Texan metropolis in the summer before a contentious election. As he still copes with his unthinkable twenty-five year history of imprisonment and torture, he finds hope at Salem Market, a tiny store that caters to Houston’s refugee community. The film tells his story of disillusionment and resilience, questioning our understanding of the immigrant experience in contemporary America.
Filmed in: Houston, Texas
Running time: 1:38:40 min
Digital frame rate: 23.976
Screening format: Blue-Ray, DCP, DVD
Language: English, Tigriyna, Arabic, Amharic
"Film Spotlights Houston Refugees' Stories" – Jewish Herald Voice
"In Houston, a filmmaker tries to understand the city’s mélange of refugees" – The Urban Edge
"Migrant Ironies: Migrants Hope for Life Without Limitations in Houston" – The Feminist Wire