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A depiction of the Eritrean refugee crisis told through first-hand accounts, expert analysis, and reflections of an American traveler.
A depiction of the Eritrean refugee crisis told through first-hand accounts, expert analysis, and reflections of an American traveler.
A depiction of the Eritrean refugee crisis told through first-hand accounts, expert analysis, and reflections of an American traveler.
335 backers pledged $33,948 to help bring this project to life.

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Refugee: The Eritrean Exodus

$33,948

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Refugee: The Eritrean Exodus - Feature Length Documentary

There are plenty of humanitarian issues throughout the world, but what distinguishes the Eritrean refugee crisis is that much of the world is unaware of it. Until now.

Follow Chris Cotter, an American world traveler, as he searches for answers about this mysterious country’s little-reported refugee crisis. 

Eritrea is a narrow strip of African land that borders the Red Sea and its people are leaving en masse to escape the brutality of Isaias Afwerki, the Eritrean president who has retained power for over 20 years. The film brings the viewer on a common migration path that many Eritreans desperately undertake for the slim hope of freedom and security.

Adi Harush
Adi Harush

Chris and his crew tour never-before-documented refugee camps in Ethiopia including the desolate and dangerous Afar region. Hear the stories of Eritreans as they depict deplorable treatment in their homeland, the struggle to leave, and a vanishing hope for a better life. 

Back in Eritrea, they face indefinite military service comparable to slave labor, harsh imprisonment for speaking out, arbitrary killings, and an uncertain future. Some have been ripped from their homes in the middle of the night without cause and have never been heard from again.

Mai Ayni
Mai Ayni

Despite the potential dangers of speaking ill of the regime, the surviving refugees bravely reveal the profound hardships they have endured. As the refugees explain, once they choose to leave, they face being shot at the border, kidnapped for ransom, and even having their organs harvested. Their stories are unimaginable and heartbreaking, yet told with a profound dignity.

The dire situation shocks Chris and his team as their search leads them to Israel where they interview many urban refugees and experts from leading NGOs. Searching to find a reason for hope, they are confronted by angry Israelis who are unsympathetic to the cause, labeling the Eritreans as “job-stealing infiltrators.” 

Protest in Israel
Protest in Israel

Refugee: The Eritrean Exodus challenges the audience to consider how such a large-scale injustice can exist in the 21st century, while the rest of the world remains either unaware or seemingly impotent. As depicted in the film, many Americans have not even heard of the country, let alone the atrocities committed there. Witnessing the refugees’ bare humanity makes their sub-animal treatment at the hands of Afwerki that much harder to stomach.

But stomach it we must, the film demands. The stakes are too high. We must watch, listen, question, and act. Only then will the plight of the Eritrean people end. Only then will they attain hope. Only then, will they finally have a place to call “home.”

Asyta in the Afar region
Asyta in the Afar region

There is still much work that needs to be done. The diagrams below outline our goals and show how the money will be used. 

Enda Abaguna
Enda Abaguna
Refugee Council in Adi Harush
Refugee Council in Adi Harush

Phase 4 - In Camp Programs - Over Funding

We were approached with the opportunity to help bring a little relief by sending supplies to the four refugee camps we feature in the film. Once our film is finished we will use the left over funds to start in-camp programs. 

Chris with Mai Ayni
Chris with Mai Ayni

Meet Our Team

Chris Cotter: Chris owns and operates Tailor Made Media and TribeSound Records where he spends his time producing music and managing film and commercial video projects. He’s composed and produced for many award winning musical artists and has closely worked with several large organizations both in the US and abroad. His experience and ambition has led Chris around the world working in the United States, Africa, Europe, Central and South America. When Chris isn’t traveling or found in the editing room you’re likely to find him on stage drumming it up with his band WaveRadio.

Scott Miller: Scott has been writing and directing for film and video since 2009. He graduated in 2011 from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in Film Studies. During his time there he worked on numerous student films that have been featured at various film festivals. He has since been working in Philadelphia on local projects as camera operator and editor while continuously finding time to fine tune his skill on the etch-a-sketch.

Joe Acchione: Joe has been writing, shooting and editing films and videos for over ten years. While earning his film degree from Emerson College in Boston, MA he took part in long-term studies of film, literature and music throughout Europe and Los Angeles. He has also performed as a lead guitarist on many well-known stages including the Warped Tour, the TLA of Philadelphia and Lollapalooza.  He currently owns and operates Tailor Made Media, a commercial film and video production company.

Evan R. Schullery: Evan graduated with a B.S. in Cinema and Photography from Ithaca College in 2003. With a concentration in Screenwriting, his writing experience has been mostly fictional up until this project. He interned for the Emmy-winning television show Malcolm in the Middle, assisting writers and helping organize the show’s “bible,” as well as at Martin-Chase Productions, where he wrote script coverage. He has written several screenplays that have performed well in contests and has most recently applied his writing skills to music, under the artist name “Skinny Cool Kid.”

Josh Coyne: Joshua is a nationally aired commercial and music video director who also specializes in high end visual effects, detail oriented editing, and color correction. He earned his BA in cinematography, and soon thereafter learned he also excelled in Directing. His broad work experiences are in every aspect of production. Whether as director, producer, editor, VFX artist or Director of Photography, Josh fully commits to each individual project.

Risks and challenges

Our largest risk is not completing the documentary by our projected goal of the end of March, 2015. With so many moving parts it is difficult to predict the pitfalls along the way that could push back our release date by a month or more. The endless effort and the tireless work ethic of the crew makes us very confident that we will accomplish our goal of releasing this by Spring of 2015. We are very excited about telling the Eritrean story and this film is our number one priority.

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Funding period

- (30 days)