Safe Haven

From Peabody Award winning filmmaker Lisa Molomot: In Safe Haven, war resisters expose the realities and myths of Canada as refuge.
Alison Mountz
Year Released
Film Length(s)
80 mins
Remote video URL


Safe Haven weaves together powerful stories of U.S. war resisters who sought refuge in Canada during wars in Vietnam and Iraq. This award-winning film shows how Vietnam era resisters participated in a movement to support the younger generation of U.S. soldiers. Safe Haven exposes realities and myths of Canada as refuge.

Featured review

Essential viewing for any course on migration, war, and peace studies.
Emily Gilbert
Professor, Canadian Studies and Dept. of Geography & Planning, University of Toronto


Safe Haven weaves together powerful stories of U.S. war resisters who sought safe haven in Canada during wars in Vietnam and Iraq. The film shows how Vietnam era resisters participated in a movement to support the younger generation of U.S. soldiers fleeing war in Iraq. Safe Haven exposes realities and myths of Canada as refuge.

This award-winning film is timely on both sides of the U.S./Canada border. Few Americans know the history of what happened to war resisters who emigrated to Canada during the war in Vietnam. Fewer still know the more recent stories of the resisters to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who also went to Canada seeking refuge. The Canadian audience knows the history of migration during war in Vietnam, but less about the more recent generation. As war continues around the globe, the question of what kinds of roles governments will play in relation to these wars is crucial: will they participate? Will they provide safe haven? Our film shows that these roles change historically and can never be taken for granted, making this a timely resource and platform for dialogue.

Read about the film's Producer/Geographer Alison Mountz: Alison Mountz is professor of geography and Laurier Research Chair in Global Migration at Wilfrid Laurier University. She moved to Canada from the United States and has spent much of her adult life crossing and researching the border between the two countries. Her work explores how people cross borders, access migration and asylum policies, survive detention, resist war, and create safe havens. Dr. Mountz's books include Seeking Asylum: Human Smuggling and Bureaucracy at the Border (University of Minnesota, awarded the Meridian Book Prize); Boats, Borders, and Bases: Race, the Cold War, and the Rise of Migration Detention in the United States (University of California, co-authored with Dr. Jenna Loyd); and The death of asylum: hidden geographies of the enforcement archipelago (Minnesota, awarded the Globe Book Award). Mountz edits Politics & Space, hosts the podcast Displacements, and directs Haven, a lab designed to preserve and share migration-related data. She is a member of the College of the Royal Society of Canada, held a Canada Research Chair in Global Migration, and the William Lyon Mackenzie King Visiting Professorship of Canadian Studies at Harvard University.


"Safe Haven is a deeply nuanced portrayal of war resisters in the eras of Vietnam and the Global War on Terror. It shows that while US imperial aggression across the world endures, so does refusal to participate. Through powerful testimonials, the film also reminds us that as they flee the call to war, resisters are met with the violence of borders and asylum systems. Safe Haven compels us to think about the intersections between war, empire, borders, and militarism in new and much needed ways.”
Helena Zeweri
Asst. Professor of Anthropology, University of British Columbia
Safe Haven is a powerful exploration of how the violence of war ripples through our societies: the devastating personal and social harms such violence produces, and the ways people resist it in order to create spaces of refuge, even when states refuse to. A compelling documentary for anyone interested in war, resistance, and borders.
Cetta Mainwaring
Lecturer in Sociology, University of Glasgow
From the Vietnam to the Iraq wars, there have always been soldiers who found participation in the U.S. military intolerable and sought refuge in Canada. Safe Haven is the remarkable documentary that tells their stories and recounts their struggles.
Dr. William Walters
Departments of Political Science and Sociology & Anthropology, Carleton University
Safe Haven is an inspiring film that enriches our understanding of draft and war resisters during the Vietnam era, while making illuminating connections to more recent efforts of U.S. soldiers refusing to participate in the Pentagon’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. This invaluable documentary forces us to think about sanctuary. borders, and U.S.-Canada relations in complicated ways.
Joseph Nevins
Professor of Geography, Vassar College
Safe Haven is recommended as a valuable resource for those exploring U.S. - Canadian relations and also for students and scholars of human migration. It is a solid addition to the study of U.S. war resisters generally and of the Vietnam and Iraq War experiences of the United States more specifically. The film may be of added special interest to individuals or agencies who serve persons recovering from any number of traumatic war related experiences, military veterans and resisters alike.
Michael Pasqualoni
Librarian for Public Communications, Syracuse University Libraries, Educational Media Reviews Online
Safe Haven is a brilliant and timely contribution to historical understanding of American responses to war. Through its portrayal of the gripping moral and ethical struggles that conscientious objectors face, it reveals the human face of the tensions at stake when a country goes to war.
Rachel Silvey
Professor, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto
I am truly amazed by the new insights I gained from this film. It sheds light on the struggles faced by our veterans by portraying the poignant stories of war resisters, and it underscores the difficult choices they are forced to make and the impact of opting for non-violent solutions in times of conflict.
Renata Valree
Peace Studies Faculty, California State University, Dominguez Hills

Awards and Screenings

Best Documentary, Central Alberta Film Festival, October 2020
People’s Choice Award, Zonta Film Festival 2023
Association of American Geographers, University of Montreal and Denver, March 24, 2023
Kahoots Festival, London, ON, May 27, 2023
Presentation Manor, Scarborough, Ontario, January 2023
University of Glasgow, December 2022
Toronto Premiere, Revue Cinema, September 2022
Balsillie School of International Affairs, September 2022
Official Selection, Davis Film Festival, September 2022
Official Selection, Global Migration Film Festival, December 2020
Official Selection, Marda Loop Social Justice Film Festival, November 2020
Official Selection, Las Cruces International Film Festival, March 2020
Official Selection, Bonita Springs International Film Festival, March 2020

Director Commentary

Because Safe Haven tells the stories of life on both sides of the U.S./Canada border, Producer Alison Mountz and I had a unique challenge in making this film. Though Alison has lived in Canada for some time, I had never lived in Canada, and so I felt unprepared to make a film to which both American and Canadian audiences could relate. By having the opportunity to travel and then to spend 4 months living and working on the film in different parts of the country as a Fulbright Scholar, I was able to, with Alison’s help, better think about the bigger themes and even the smaller details in the film in relations to these two distinct audiences.

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