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Traces of Home documents filmmaker Colette Ghunim's journey
to find her parents' homes in Mexico and Palestine.
Traces of Home documents filmmaker Colette Ghunim's journey to find her parents' homes in Mexico and Palestine.
386 backers pledged $36,581 to help bring this project to life.
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Traces of Home: A Feature Length Documentary

$36,581

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Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, I was disconnected from the community and cultures my parents were forced to leave as children in Mexico and Palestine. They never returned to our ancestral homes, which alienated me from ever feeling connected to either ethnic group. 

Traces of Home is a 56-minute documentary that intimately explores the complexity of my biracial identity, as well as the emotional trauma of returning home.

As a child, Hosni's parents owned a successful business in Safad, Palestine, built an expansive home on top of a mountain, and often visited family and friends that lived only a few blocks away. In 1948, when Hosni was four years old, his family was forced to flee by Eastern European settlers, taking only what they could carry on their 12-hour walk to Lebanon. He was never allowed to return, and after living in Spain for college, he ended up moving to the United States.

Iza was born in Mexico City in 1954, her father a well-known tailor for celebrities like Cantinflas. He provided his children with love and abundance: a giant ranch house, two maids, and endless gifts. However, he concealed a dark secret only visible in his home. Iza’s father was a troubled alcoholic, severely abusing his wife whenever he got drunk. Fearing for her life, Iza’s mother decided to take her children and escape Mexico, hiding from her violent husband who set out to kill her.

During Hosni’s welcome party on his first day in Chicago, he fell in love with Iza, his wife of now forty years. Despite major cultural differences and financial setbacks, they decided to build their home and family together. My brother and I were born, in a mostly-white suburb of Chicago, never growing up with Spanish, Arabic, or meeting any relatives from either culture.

Though normalized violence against those deemed as “aliens” has persisted throughout American history, the Latino and Arab communities are current targets of racist and hateful acts. This violence, as well as the ideology underlying it, needs to be met with personal accounts of how immigrants serve as the foundation of the United States. I had always wanted to understand where my parents came from, but after the atrocities fueled by the 2016 election, I knew we needed to return. Together.

 While planning these trips to Mexico and Palestine to find my parents homes, viewers are immersed in our own family dynamics and the effects of trauma on our strained relationships together. 

 We completed the first half of production in Palestine in March 2019, spending one month finding my father’s home.  Approximately 50% of our footage is already captured; your contribution will help us complete production in Mexico to find my mother's home in January 2020, as well as assist with the transition into post-production.  

 Our trip to Mexico expenses will include: airfare, gas, car rental, accommodations, food, and rental equipment. Crew costs include a local fixer, DP, and a sound recordist.

Our DP in Mexico is Monica Wise,  a filmmaker and video journalist focusing on women, identity, immigration and human rights in Mexico. Her work has been featured in the Guardian, the Atlantic, TeleSUR,  AJ+, PBS, History Now, and NBC Latino. Wise worked as a producer and cinematographer on "The New Deciders," a PBS documentary special. She will lead field production and shooting in Mexico City.

Filming our search for my father's home in Palestine

 We have built an advisory board of over 30 organizations internationally working on issues that affect both Arab and Latinx communities such as border militarization, deportations, and family separations. These organizations include Mujeres Latinas en Accion, the Institute for Middle East Understanding, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, Organized Communities Against Deportations, and Stop the Wall Movement to design the guides and lead such crucial discussions.

Traces of Home has been featured by a number of outlets thus far as well, including Al Jazeera and Univision

Now-December 2019: Fundraising for Mexico. I will spend four months to secure funding for production in Mexico through grants, a Kickstarter campaign, and in-person fundraiser.

January 2020: Production in Mexico. I will interview my family in Mexico City and film the journey to find my mother’s home.

February 2020: Production in US. I will film my family’s responses and the aftermath of returning home after such an experience.

February 2020 - October 2020: Post Production.

November 2020: Film Festival Release

Check out a few of our unique and beautiful rewards! More will be revealed throughout our campaign, so be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay caught up!

Risks and challenges

Being first-generation American and a woman of color, filmmaking isn’t just an artistic passion for me, but also a concrete way for me to support and advocate for my community. However, breaking into the documentary film industry has been difficult to navigate regarding access and funding. With only 8% of directors being women, and even less women of color, it is an uphill battle to ensure equity in the mainstream markets among major broadcast networks.

Making this deeply personal film about my family comes with its own challenges as well. As I learned more about the places my parents once called home, the theme of my own lost cultural identity became vital to include in the final film. I am aware that doing this within the filmmaking process naturally collapses public/private boundaries; I continue to try to navigate capturing my parents’ and my own experiences while making sure to respect individual needs for space, time, and healing.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 10 or more About US$ 10

    You're Part of the Family!

    Thanks for backing Traces of Home! Your contribution will get us closer to reaching our production goal for Mexico!

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    22 backers
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    Pledge US$ 15 or more About US$ 15

    Celebrity Status

    Thanks for backing Traces of Home! Keep a lookout for your name on Facebook and Instagram shoutout!

    Includes:
    • Social Media Shoutout
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    23 backers
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    Pledge US$ 25 or more About US$ 25

    VIP Access to the film!

    Includes:
    • Social Media Shoutout
    • Digital link to the finished film upon premiere!
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    141 backers
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    Pledge US$ 50 or more About US$ 50

    Hola from Mexico!

    Receive a custom postcard from the film director + crew during production in Mexico!

    Includes:
    • Social Media Shoutout
    • Digital link to the finished film upon premiere!
    • Virtual Postcard from Director Colette Ghunim filming in Mexico
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    72 backers
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    Pledge US$ 100 or more About US$ 100

    On the Big Screen!

    All of the above
    + Name in closing credits

    Includes:
    • Social Media Shoutout
    • Digital link to the finished film upon premiere!
    • Virtual Postcard from Director Colette Ghunim filming in Mexico
    • Your name in the end credits of the finished film
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    59 backers
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 250 or more About US$ 250

    Write Your Own Story

    Receive a handmade, personalized Traces of Home themed journal from Mexican-American owned Papelitos Lindos from the heart of Pilsen, Chicago.

    Includes:
    • Social Media Shoutout
    • Digital link to the finished film upon premiere!
    • Virtual Postcard from Director Colette Ghunim filming in Mexico
    • Your name in the end credits of the finished film
    • Traces of Home - Custom Journal
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    Limited 12 backers
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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 500 or more About US$ 500

    Our Limited-Edition Vintage Film Poster!

    Receive a special Traces of Home vintage-printed film poster by Egyptian-American artist Statement Press, autographed by Director Colette Ghunim! You will also receive a custom stationery set by Mexican-American owned Papelitos Lindos from the heart of Pilsen, Chicago.

    Includes:
    • Social Media Shoutout
    • Digital link to the finished film upon premiere!
    • Virtual Postcard from Director Colette Ghunim filming in Mexico
    • Your name in the end credits of the finished film
    • Traces of Home Custom Stationary Set
    • Traces of Home - Vintage Autographed Film Poster
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    Ships to Only United States
    Limited 4 backers
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    Pledge US$ 1,000 or more About US$ 1,000

    Director Skype + Gift from Palestine

    With all the rest of the rewards included, you will be scheduled for a one-on-one call with the Director of Traces of Home! You will also receive a special gift basket with ceramics and sweets directly from the Palestine Online Store.

    Includes:
    • Social Media Shoutout
    • Virtual Postcard from Director Colette Ghunim filming in Mexico
    • Digital link to the finished film upon premiere!
    • Traces of Home - Vintage Autographed Film Poster
    • Your name in the end credits of the finished film
    • Palestinian Gift Basket - Traditional Coffee Mug and Cookies
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    Ships to Only United States
    Limited 3 backers
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    Pledge US$ 2,000 or more About US$ 2,000

    Your Family's Custom Film Poster

    Get a customized film poster representing your own countries of origin, designed by Egyptian-American owned company Statement Press. You will also receive 2 Tickets to the Chicago premiere (travel not included) of Traces of Home!

    Includes:
    • Social Media Shoutout
    • Digital link to the finished film upon premiere!
    • Virtual Postcard from Director Colette Ghunim filming in Mexico
    • Your name in the end credits of the finished film
    • Traces of Home - Vintage Autographed Film Poster
    • 2 Tickets to Chicago Premiere of Traces of Home
    • Custom Artwork With Your Heritage Countries
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    Ships to Only United States
    Limited 0 backers
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    Pledge US$ 5,000 or more About US$ 5,000

    Associate Producer Level

    Your name will be featured in our end credits as an Associate Producer for your generous pledge towards Traces of Home! You will also receive a beautiful piece of artwork by Palestinian Artist Imad Abu Shtayyah from the Palestine Online Store.

    Includes:
    • Social Media Shoutout
    • Digital link to the finished film upon premiere!
    • Virtual Postcard from Director Colette Ghunim filming in Mexico
    • Traces of Home - Vintage Autographed Film Poster
    • 2 Tickets to Chicago Premiere of Traces of Home
    • Beautiful Canvas Art by Palestinian Artist Imad Abu Shtayyah
    • Associate Producer Title in end credits of the film
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    Ships to Only United States
    Limited 1 backer
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    Pledge US$ 4 or more About US$ 4

    Secret Behind The Scenes Blog!

    ONLY FOR WEEK 3: Gain exclusive access to our production blog while in Mexico, with daily updates posted on our filming progress finding my mother's original home.

    Includes:
    • Private Access to Exclusive Production Blog!
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    Reward no longer available 4 backers
    $

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Funding period

- (30 days)