Sponsored by Waterville United Church of Christ
“Some experiences resist narrative. The eight days in which Sham, a single mother, and her two children cross eight borders to make it from Syria to Germany do not come neatly packaged in a way that makes it easy for Western audiences to consume. Instead, the viewer is invited along for the ride—not as an analyst, not as a film buff, but as a witness. Intellectually, viewers probably know that the conflict in Syria has created the biggest humanitarian crisis of our times, with millions of refugees fleeing violence. But following Sham and her kids as they push through lines of border police beating refugees, as they wait outside a restaurant on the Macedonian border in the rain, as they sneak through tall grass in the dead of night to cross the Hungarian border, shows us something else. It shows just how devastating the indifference and nativism of non-Syrian citizens can be to a single family that survives. This is a raw, emotional path for a documentary to take, and it’s one everyone should see”—Sydney Brownstone, The Stranger.
This Hollywood-produced short subject film was released in 1944 by RKO, aimed at American wartime audiences who—as always during periods of high immigration—sometimes resent the sudden influx of “foreigners,” whether they are refugees or other sorts of asylum-seekers. Making the case that immigrants bring many positive and valuable things to the US, it includes segments on several actual refugees from Hitler’s reign of terror, including Albert Einstein. The film—part of RKO’s “This Is America” series—was nominated for an Oscar and was directed by pioneering Hollywood editor-director Slavko Vorkapich. Its timeliness speaks for itself in 2017 America.