Local film festival brings immigration and resettlement stories to the big screen

Home Is Distant Shores Film Festival | From Friday October 15 to Sunday October 24


Sachi Dely has a message for the 130,000 Afghan evacuees who are now resettling around the world:

“Even if at the moment things are bad, things are better. It is always better. “

These are the first words of Letter from a refugee, a 2.5-minute film released on September 8. Morrisville-based independent film company VerveFilms produced the video to promote the third Home Is Distant Shores Film Festival, a 10-day celebration of refugee and immigrant-focused films taking place this week.

Dely, a Greensboro-based actor and artist, recounts this through clips of her interacting with the greenery around her art studio. She focuses on what she learned as a refugee from the highlands of South Vietnam and how it relates to the plight of the new Afghan evacuees.

“When you get to the country they’re sending you to, there’s hope now because you’re in a safer place,” Dely says. “But there is always the fear, there is always the adaptation to the culture, always the feeling of starting over.”

The short video debuted at the start of mass global efforts to resettle displaced Afghan citizens, after the US military withdrew its troops from the area. While Aby Rao, the video’s producer and one of the festival’s co-founders, filmed it in mid-August, national news cycles filled most of their time with chaotic images of people capturing planes taking off from Kabul airport.

Given the timing, Rao felt compelled to ask Dely about her early experiences with resettlement.

“I don’t think she’s trying to paint a rosy picture of life in the United States or any other country outside of home,” said Rao, who immigrated to the United States in 2002 to pursue studies. higher. “For me, it’s about living your own life and being unique and honest with yourself.”

The film released on Vimeo is a longer version of a similar video that VerveFilms will use as the opening reel for Home Is Distant Shores. The opening will welcome members of the public to the event and feature themes that are featured in the other 19 films.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, festival organizers have changed the format from an in-person gathering in Cary to a virtual setting. However, those involved in the production of the event are confident that the celebration will always captivate its audience.

“It’s incredible programming that we were able to get,” says Emily Prins, director of programming for the festival. “I feel like every year there’s one or two that make me say ‘Oh wow, I can’t believe we have them. “And we have them again this year.

Rao does not expect the end of the film festival to mark the end of Letters the audience. In a few months, as Afghan evacuees and new refugees from other countries stabilize in their resettled homes, he wants to share the video with those who can connect with Dely’s story.

“My hope is to make the short film all over the country and abroad where they might be and give them the opportunity to see it and appreciate some of Sachi’s thoughts,” Rao said. “It’s a slow and long process that I’m really hopeful of.”


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Gladys T. Hensley

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