2018 Sundance Docs in Focus: THIS IS HOME

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Gidalya Pictures

THIS IS HOME
Alexandra Shiva reveals the experiences of newly arrived Syrian refugees in Baltimore.

Festival Section:
World Cinema Documentary Competition

Country:
USA/Jordan

Sundance Program Description:

Only 21,000 Syrian refugees out of five million have been accepted into the United States since 2011. THIS IS HOME follows four families sent to resettle in Baltimore in 2016. They have just eight months to find jobs, learn English, and become self-sufficient. The clock starts right when they land. Despite good intentions, a vast cultural divide prevents the new arrivals and the Americans trying to help them from truly understanding each other. For Syrians like Khaldoun, who was tortured and left physically disabled, and children like Mohammad, who suffers from PTSD, their needs extend far beyond lessons in proper job attire.

Halfway through the process, President Trump issues a travel ban on all refugees from Muslim-majority countries, and suddenly their lives, and the safety of loved ones still trapped in Syria, become all the more perilous. With much-needed empathy, filmmaker Alexandra Shiva reveals the inherent decency of a displaced community desperate for help within a country increasingly hostile to principles of inclusion and opportunity.

Some Background:
Director/Producer:

  • Alexandra Shiva
    Past Sundance docs:

    HOW TO DANCE IN OHIO (2015)

    Shiva’s fourth documentary feature participated in the Sundance Institute’s Catalyst Forum in 2016.

Producer:

  • Lindsey Megrue

    This marks Megrue’s first Sundance credit. She has a background producing series and documentaries, including several episodes for PBS’s American Experience. Megrue was a 2017 Documentary Producers Fellow with Impact Partners.

Co-Producer:

  • Stu Pollard

    Pollard previously produced Sundance fiction feature BASS ACKWARDS (2010), but this is his first documentary project at the festival.

Additional Producer:

  • Valerie Bishop Pearson

    This is the first Sundance credit for the EPIX director of original programming.

Associate Producers:

  • Constance Brimelow

    This is the first producing credit for Brimelow, who works for Shiva’s Gidalya Pictures.

  • Jenifer Westphal
    Past Sundance docs:

    SEMBENE! (2015)

    Wavelength Productions’ Westphal is also an executive producer for Doc Premieres title WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? and US Doc Competition title INVENTING TOMORROW and an associate producer for Next narrative feature NIGHT COMES ON.

  • Ethan C Yake

    This marks the first Sundance project for Yake, whose background is in community engagement and events logistics.

Executive Producers:

  • Princess Firyal of Jordan

    This is the first producing credit for the philanthropist, humanitarian, and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.

  • Jason Blum
    Past Sundance docs:

    HOW TO DANCE IN OHIO
    THE JINX: THE LIFE AND DEATHS OF ROBERT DURST (2015)

    The Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning founder and CEO of Blumhouse Productions has also produced several Sundance alumni fiction features, including GET OUT (2017), SLEIGHT (2016), and US Dramatic Grand Jury prize and audience award winner WHIPLASH (2014).

  • Patty Quillin
    Past Sundance docs:

    BENDING THE ARC (2017)

    Philanthropist Quillin is also an executive producer of 2018 US Doc Competition titles THE DEVIL WE KNOW and INVENTING TOMORROW, and Next narrative NIGHT COMES ON. She has been a past Creative Advisor to Sundance’s Catalyst Forum and also supported the 2017 Sundance VR project THE SKY IS A GAP. Quillin is the wife of Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.

  • Jocelyn Diaz

    This is the first Sundance credit for Diaz, who until recently was the head of original programming at EPIX. Before EPIX, Diaz developed features at Walt Disney Studios and drama series at HBO and ABC.

  • Jill Burkhart

    This is also the first Sundance credit for Burkhart, senior director of original programming at EPIX, and the co-founder and former artistic and executive director of the Nantucket Film Festival.

Co-Executive Producers:

  • Blumhouse Television’s Marci Wiseman and Jeremy Gold

    This is also the first Sundance project for both co-presidents of Blumhouse Television, previously from AMC and Endemol Shine, respectively.

  • Yvonne Huff Lee and Jason Delane Lee
    Past Sundance docs:

    UNREST (2017, associate producers)
    ICARUS (2017, co-executive producers)

    The husband and wife actors and philanthropists are co-founders of the Lagralane Group, a financing and development company also involved with 2017 Sundance alums STEP, TROPHY, and DINA. They also serves as associate producers on 2018 Sundance narrative feature NIGHT COMES ON.

Editor:

  • Toby Shimin
    Past Sundance docs:

    HOW TO DANCE IN OHIO
    BUCK (2011)
    EVERYTHING’S COOL (2007)
    OUT OF THE PAST (1998)
    A LEAP OF FAITH (1996)
    MARTHA & ETHEL (1994)

Associate Editor:

  • Joy E Reed
    Past Sundance docs:

    HOW TO DANCE IN OHIO
    BUCK (assistant editor)

Why You Should Watch:
With sensitivity and compassion, Shiva charts the new reality for her intrepid subjects as they try to find their footing in America. The film offers a corrective to fear-mongering and xenophobia while never candy coating the complexity and challenges facing the new transplants.

More Info:
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For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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