Real Talkies

Real Talkies

Every cut is a lie. It’s never that way. Those two shots were never next to each other in time that way. But you’re telling a lie in order to tell the truth. –Wolf Koenig.

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9.9 Million

June 20, 2011 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

9.9 million. That is the total number of refugees in the world. Wars, famine and natural disasters are the most common reasons that force people to leave their homes and flee their homelands. People get displaced internally within their own country, other times within a continent and under extreme circumstances they seek refuge in other continents. They wait and hope that sometime during their lifetime, things will get better and they will either return home or find a new home.

Source: Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, UNHCR.

June 20th is the WORLD REFUGEE DAY, RealTalkies is pleased to compile a list of documentaries from around the world that bring their problems to light. We also want to thank the refugees who allowed unprecedented access to the filmmakers at the time of great distress to share their stories with the world in the hope that something positive could happen. The works of filmmakers like Tim Hetherington who put their lives at risk to document these stories and the scores of NGOS, activist and Foundations who work tirelessly to do their bit to improve the lives of the refugees is much appreciated as well.

Please share this compilation with groups and individuals who might find this useful.


WAR CHILD (2008) Sudan

Emmanuel Jal, child soldier of Sudan turned Hip-Hop artist, has incorporated his experiences into “War Child”

WAR DANCE (2007) Uganda

In civil war ravaged Northern Uganda, three children Dominic, Rose and Nancy residents of Patongo camp are invited to compete in an annual music and dance competition, their historic journey to their nation’s capital is also an opportunity to regain a part of their childhood and to taste victory for the first time in their lives.

God grew tired of us (2006) Sudan, New York.

God Grew Tired of Us explores the spirit of three Sudanese young men who leave their homeland, triumph over adversities, and move to America.

A Great Wonder: Lost boys of Sudan (2003) Sudan, Seatle.

Documents the difficult transitions of three of the sudanese lost boys and girls from Sudan to Seatle, Washington.

Lost Boys of Sudan (2003) Sudan and American Suburb.


Lost Boys of Sudan is an Emmy-nominated feature-length documentary that follows two Sudanese refugees on an extraordinary journey from Africa to America. Orphaned as young boys in one of Africa’s cruelest civil wars, Peter Dut and Santino Chuor survived lion attacks and militia gunfire to reach a refugee camp in Kenya along with thousands of other children. From there, remarkably, they were chosen to come to America. Safe at last from physical danger and hunger, a world away from home, they find themselves confronted with the abundance and alienation of contemporary American suburbia


In the matter of Cha Jung Hee  (2010) USA, Korea.

Her passport said she was Cha Jung Hee. She knew she was not. So began a 40-year deception for a Korean adoptee who came to the United States in 1966. Told to keep her true identity secret from her new American family, the 8-year-old girl quickly forgot she had ever been anyone else. But why had her identity been switched? And who was the real Cha Jung Hee? In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee is the search to find the answers, as acclaimed filmmaker Deann Borshay Liem (First Person Plural, POV 2000) returns to her native Korea to find her “double,” the mysterious girl whose place she took in America.

Home Across Lands (2009) Ethiopia, USA

It is a film documents the journey of the Kunama refugees as they travel from the Shimelba refugee camp in Northern Ethiopia to their new home in Rhode Island.

The Fortress (2008) Switzerland

Unrestricted access was given to the center of asylum seekers in Switzerland.  It presents a human gaze at an austere transition place, where 200 men, women and children, torn between doubt and hope, are awaiting the state’s decision on their behalf.

THE Betrayal: Nerakhoon (2008) Laos, Newyork

It is a tale of perseverance – one family’s struggle to survive their journey from war-torn Laos to the streets of New York.

24 DAYS in BROOKS (2007) Alberta, Canada.

Centering around a 24 days strike at Lakeside, the film explores how people work together and adapt to change.

Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars (2006) Guinea, Sierra Leone

The remarkable story of a group of six Sierra Leonean musicians who come together to form a band while living in a West African refugee camp.

The Letter (2003) Somalia, Lewiston.

In the wake of the 9/11 tragedy a firestorm erupts when Mayor Larry Ramond of Lewiston, Maine sends an open letter to 1,100 newly arrived Somali refugees advising them that the city’s resources are strained to the limit and asking other Somalis not to move to the city. Interpreted as a rallying cry by white supremacist groups across the United States, THE LETTER documents the crossfire of emotions and events, culminating in a “hate” rally convened by the World Church of the Creator and a counter “peace” rally involving 4,000 Lewiston residents supporting ethnic and cultural diversity.

In this world (2002) ( docudrama)

Michael Winterbottom’s courageous docudrama is a deeply moving account of the shocking cost of the human traffic in economic migrants.

The Split Horn: Life of a Hmong Shaman in America. (2001) Laos, Appleton, Wisconsin

The Split Horn is the sweeping story of a Hmong shaman and his family living in Appleton, Wisconsin. Documenting the journey of Paja Thao and his family from the mountains of Laos to the heartland of America this poignant film shows a shaman’s struggle to maintain his ancient traditions as his children embrace American culture.

Shadows and Whispers (2001) North Korea, China

Since 1995, 2 million North Koreans have starved to death from famine. Hundreds of thousands of others cross illegally to China in search of food. Filmed in the remote northeast mountains of china it captures the dire circumstances of North Korean Refugees who journey to China.

Blue Collar and Buddha (1986) Laos, Illinois.

This dramatic documentary explores America’s Laotian refugees struggling against the mounting tension of a post-Vietnam era filled with guilt and anger. A group of Laotian refugees have built a Buddhist temple on a small farmstead on the outskirts of a resolutely blue collar town. Their efforts to preserve their culture and religious heritage have been greeted by several terrorist attacks upon their temple.


MRS. GOUNDO’s DAUGHTER (2009) Mali and Phildelphia

It is the story of an African mother’s fight for asylum in the US to protect her two-year old daughter from genital mutilation.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. Films will be added to this list and please comment on the blog, or tweet or send me a facebook message with suggestions for films that have not made it to the list.


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