EXILE NO MORE is a documentary film on the arduous and nearly impossible plight of African refugees and asylum seekers in Israel. Journeying from Sudan, Eritrea and as far as Cote d’Ivoire, this film will document the incredible stories of these refugees struggling to survive. The film will take place in Israel after refugees from Africa have fled civil war and persecution in their native country. They leave their country having lost their basic human rights; they come to Israel expecting to gain them. Those that travel through Egypt in most cases are placed into “torture camps” in the Sinai. Many do not survive. It is a dangerous journey to Israel. Many refugees go to Israel because, when it comes to African refugees and asylum seekers, Israel is the most tolerant of any country in the Middle East. The Jewish people have a history of exile. Today, they are faced with the difficult issue of how to treat their non-Jewish neighbors, the African refugees. Those that make it into Israel can live safely, but are not completely free. Living in a land that cannot accept them as citizens but only as survivors, these refugees are unable to access the resources needed to become educated members of Israeli society. As members of a fringe community, their stories remain untold.
This documentary will change that. Working with the Alternative Break programat American University, I will have complete access to the following organizations and people: members of the Israeli government, international development organizations, border soldiers who have witnessed relevant human rights abuses, religious leaders, NGOs focusing on legal and humanitarian assistance, African Refugee Development Center’s (ARDC) Homeless Shelter for women and children seeking asylum, the asylum seeking population in South Tel Aviv, and local groups that oppose African refugee settlement within Israel. While this specific issue of asylum seekers and African refugees may be unique to Israel, the parallels to immigration policies in other countries such as the United States and Costa Rica make the subject matter relevant to a broader audience. The success of this project will also depend heavily on the prior experience I have had in Israel; I have shot and completed a 30-minute documentary in Jerusalem. This experience will be vital in understanding how Israel works with foreigners, how they react to filmmakers, and how to make the use of a very limited amount of shooting time.
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