Films Across Borders: Stories of Migration

  • Film
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Sun, October 08 —
    Tue, December 12, 2017
Films Across Borders: Stories of Migration

Showcasing international tales of courage, hope, and determination, this careful selection of documentary and dramatic films will captivate you with stories of immigrants and refugees struggling to find a place to call home.


  • On Sunday, October 8 at 4 pm. At the National Gallery of Art, East Building Auditorium, 150 4th St NW, Washington, DC 20001.
  • Directed by Philip Scheffner, Germany, 2016, 93 minutes. In various languages with English subtitles.
  • Presented by National Gallery of Art in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut Washington.
  • Free, no reservations required. Q&A with director follows the screening.

In the Mediterranean a few miles off the Spanish coast, the blurred silhouette of a small refugee boat becomes visible to the passengers aboard a near-by cruise liner. A simple “found footage” recording –an amateur eyewitness video made by one of the cruise ship’s passengers– becomes the film’s central motif, replaying over and over this grim scenario. Through experimenting with image and sound (the soundtrack offers a textured, multilingual account of the historical and cultural forces that gave rise to this scenario,) the distress of the situation slowly gains context.


  • On Friday, October 13, at 12 pm. At AFL-CIO, 815 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20005.
  • Directed by Fernando Luis González Mitjáns, UK, 2015, 40 minutes. In Spanish with English subtitles.
  • Presented by DC LaborFest and Immigration Film Fest.

A group of Latin American immigrants working as janitorial and cleaning staff at London’s most prestigious universities, decide to unionize and campaign for pension, health and vacation benefits.

From the Land of Gandhi

  • On Tuesday, October 17, at 6 pm. At Takoma Busboys and Poets, 235 Carroll St NW, Washington, DC 20012.
  • On Wednesday, October 18, at 6 pm. At Busboys and Poets (Hyattsville), 5331 Baltimore Ave. Hyattsville, MD 2078.
  • On Tuesday, October 24, at 6 pm. At Busboys and Poets (Shirlington), 4251 S. Campbell Ave, Arlington, VA 22206.
  • Directed by Prakash Wadhwa, USA, 2016, 48 minutes. In English.
  • Presented by Busboys and Poets, DC LaborFest and Immigration Film Fest.

Today, a high-skilled immigrant from India could wait more than 20 years to be a full member of U.S. society, often tied to an employer, unable to change careers or start businesses, and living temporarily in their minds. This story of 4 immigrants, a decade after they came to study in the U.S., places a human face to the broken high-skilled immigration system. It sheds light on this largely unattended story of one million dreams waiting for freedom. It also highlights the need for reforming America’s high-skilled immigration at a time of intense globalization and retirement of the baby boomer generation.

Risking it All: Children At The Border

Maria Elena Salinas travels to Central America and the U.S./Mexico border to explore why children are risking it all to cross the border. In El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, Salinas interviews fleeing children and their families, along with other pivotal players such as politicians, immigration experts, human rights supporters, human traffickers, and gang members.

No Room for Refugees: A Program of Five Short Films

  • On Saturday, October 28 at 7 pm. At Washington Ethical Society, 7550 16th St., NW, Washington, DC 20012.
  • On Wednesday, November 15, at 6 pm. At Busboys and Poets (Hyattsville), 5331 Baltimore Ave. Hyattsville, MD 20781.
  • On Tuesday, November 21, at 6 pm. At Takoma Busboys and Poets, 235 Carroll St NW, Washington, DC 20012.
  • On Saturday, November 25, at 7 pm. At GALA Hispanic Theater, 3333 14th St. NW, Washington DC 20010.
  • On Tuesday, November 28, at 6 pm. At Busboys and Poets (Shirlington), 4251 S. Campbell Ave, Arlington, VA 22206.
  • Presented by Immigration Film Fest.
  • Tickets: $9. Introduction by Immigration FilmFest, Mary Harris. Discussion following screening with directors and experts TBA.

Refugee: Directed by Joyce Chen and Emily Moore, United States, 2014, 27 minutes. In French with English subtitles. Refugee Aicha Diop tells the story of her biggest sacrifice when she boarded a plane for the U.S.
The Shelter: Directed by Ysabel Fantou, Germany, 2017, 10 minutes. In German with English subtitles. Follow two Bavarian pensioners as they find a strange guest house in the forest.
Léo: Written and directed by Julian Alexander, United Kingdom, 2017, 15 minutes. Drama. In French and English with English subtitles. Léo is from a place where people do bad things to get by… like smuggle refugees through France.
Do Not Come to Europe: Directed by Pontus Jonestrom, Minna Lundberg and Hanna Pousette, Sweden, 2016, 13 minutes. In English, French Swahili and Swedish with English subtitles. This 13-minute film poignantly reveals how no one imagines they will ever become a refugee.
Limbo: Directed by Olivia Bickel and Cynthia Horvilleur, United States, 2016, 35 minutes. Documentary. In English. Limbo tells the stories of migrants from Africa consigned to the Holiday Hotel in Italy.


  1. Introduction
  2. Oct. 8–28: Havarie / Limpiadores / From the Land of Gandhi / Risking it All: Children At The Border / No Room for Refugees
  3. Nov. 5–10: The Nine Muses / Documented / A Program of Shorts / An American Tail
  4. Nov. 11–17: Pelle the Conqueror / La Pirogue / Hope / Artemio
  5. Nov. 18–29: Peripeteia & Tropikos / The Stuart Hall Project / Welcome / Refugio & The Salinas Project
  6. Nov. 30–Dec. 12: El Rayo (Hassan’s Way) / Handsworth Songs / Trails of Hope & Terror / School of Babel


Venue map

Multiple locations, Washington, D.C.


Co-presented by AFI Silver Theater and Cultural Center, the American University School of Communication and College of Arts and Sciences, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, DC LaborFest, Goethe-Institut Washington, Immigration Film Fest, the Mexican Cultural Institute, the National Gallery of Art and SPAIN arts & culture. Photo: El Rayo.



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