Syria to Baltimore – Welcoming the Stranger
“This Is Home: A Refugee Story brings warmth and communal spirit to the table as it follows the travails of four Syrian refugee families finding their collective feet in Baltimore over the course of eight months. Largely foregoing mawkish sentimentality and ripped-from-the-headlines rhetoric for practical nuts and bolts, this straightforward heart-tugger casts a deserved spotlight on the work of the International Rescue Committee, foregrounding the everyday tasks and processes — from language lessons to fundraisers to the simple challenge of grocery-shopping — that make refugee resettlement possible.” — Variety
Alexandra Shiva is an award-winning filmmaker, known for crafting intimate character-driven cinema verite documentaries for both theatrical release and broadcast.
Her most recent film, This is Home, premiered at The Sundance Film Festival in 2018, where it won the Audience Award: World Cinema Documentary, and broadcast on EPIX. Her previous film, How to Dance in Ohio, won the Peabody Award, premiered at The Sundance Film Festival in 2015 and aired on HBO to great critical acclaim. Her documentary Stagedoor premiered at SXSW in 2005, had its theatrical debut at Film Forum in New York in 2006 and aired on Sundance Channel.
After spending extensive time in India, Alexandra launched her documentary career producing and directing BOMBAY EUNUCH, a feature-length documentary that follows a makeshift family of eunuchs as they struggle to survive in modern Bombay. In 2001, the film was awarded Best Documentary at New York’s New Festival and the Special Jury Award at the Florida Film Festival and was released theatrically.
Alexandra graduated from Vassar College with a BA in Art History.
DR. KAREN FERGUSON
The International Rescue Committee (IRC)** in Northern California is led by Karen Ferguson, PhD, who has been on board since 2015. Dr. Ferguson came to the IRC with over 20 years’ experience serving vulnerable populations and managing grant-funded service agencies and programs. She served as the State Refugee Coordinator in Alaska for over 10 years prior to joining the IRC, directing assistance and resettlement services for refugees, immigrants and victims of trafficking. She is a passionate and creative leader with extensive non-profit cross-cultural experience. Skilled at building strong teams, delivering services with measurable impact, and grounded in the rigors of doctoral training, Dr. Ferguson is committed to excellence in program design, delivery and sustainability.
**The International Rescue Committee provides opportunities for refugees, asylees, victims of human trafficking, survivors of torture, and other immigrants to thrive in America. Each year, thousands of people, forced to flee violence and persecution, are welcomed by the people of the United States into the safety and freedom of America. These individuals have survived against incredible odds. The IRC works with government bodies, civil society actors, and local volunteers to help them translate their past experiences into assets that are valuable to their new communities. In Oakland and other offices across the country, the IRC helps them to rebuild their lives.
Stephen Olsson returns as our series host. Stephen has produced and directed award-winning documentary films and television series throughout the world for US and European broadcasters, including the BBC, PBS (Frontline, POV, Nova), CNN, Arte, Canal+ and National Geographic. He has worked with diverse personalities including HH.the Dalai Lama, Walter Cronkite, Noam Chomsky, Ben Kingsley, John Cleese, Carlos Santana, Harry Belafonte, Sean Penn, Willy Nelson and others. His films have premiered at Sundance, Tribeca, The Lincoln Center, Mill Valley and at film festivals worldwide and have received the National Emmy Award for Outstanding Director, the Du-Pont Columbia Award and the George Foster Peabody Award. Stephen is president of the Sausalito-based non-profit media group Cultural & Educational Media CEMproductions.org and has recently released Season Two of CEM’s Global Spirit series on PBS stations nation-wide. (www.GlobalSpirit.tv)