Refuge(e) traces the incredible journey of two refugees who each fled violent threats to their lives in their home countries and presented themselves at the US border asking for political asylum, only to be incarcerated in for-profit prison for months on end without having committed any crime.
Alpha and Zeferino's stories left an emotional imprint on our students and gave them tangible stories that brought to life the statistics and migration concepts they were learning about. Refuge(e) provided students with a powerful and palpable human story on a topic that is often desensitized by political jargon in the media. The film will no doubt inspire deep and meaningful conversations in your classroom about the reality of seeking political asylum in the US.
Alpha and Zeferino each fled violent threats to their life in their home countries, made the long, dangerous trip across most of the Western hemisphere to the US/Mexico border, and presented themselves at the border asking for political asylum only to be incarcerated in a for-profit prison in Cibola County, New Mexico for months on end without having committed any crime. They represent thousands more like them who can't tell their stories, and their fight for freedom and the right to live calls into question the nature of our immigrant detention system.
“The film successfully mixes traditional documentary style with illustrated watercolor animations that lend emotional depth to the depiction of personal memories such as the men's nightmarish accounts of trekking through the Central American jungle and their experiences in the Cibola County Correctional Center. The result is a touching exposé of the horrors that might cause a person to leave everything behind, the relief of arriving at the border, and the treatment refugees face in the US immigration system.”
“While Johnson’s work tackles huge issues, it is also visually stunning. The rich textures, intentional palettes, and movement of her documentary films are often hypnotic... Watercolor animations by illustrator Austin Blasingame appear throughout Refuge(e), for example, adding gravity and yet softening the intense story, which follows two men whose journey culminates in a six-month stint in a private prison, the Cibola County Correctional Center.”