The Exodus Institute Film Festival
July 26-28, 2019
MV Film Center & Capawock Theater

The current migration crisis suggests that many have forgotten the importance of immigrants to the formation and advancement of our country. In an effort to raise public awareness of the centrality of immigration to America’s history and the advancement of our democracy, the Exodus institute and the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society are teaming up to host the first annual “Pursuing the Dream: Refugee & Migrant Film Festival.

We hope to highlight that there are more things we have in common that bring us together than separates us.


The Festival:

Pursuing the Dream” is a three-day event focused on the journey, the lives and the future for refugees and migrants in the United States taking place July 26-28, 2019.

Two different films will be shown each day; the first at 4:30 pm at the Capawock Theater and the second at 7:30 pm at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center. There will be an opening reception on the first day. The 7:30 pm films will be followed by a panel discussion focusing on the main topic of the day and the film.


DAY 1: Friday, July 26

The Journey – Focus on the travel of refugees and asylum seekers, including the separation of children, the many places and people affected by and participating in the Journey to finding a home.

 Gianfranco Rosi’s incisive, poignant and deeply moving portrait of the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa–and the humanitarian crisis occurring in the seas around it–is both a masterly work of documentary filmmaking and a timely call for urgent action. Situated 150 miles south of Sicily, Lampedusa has hit headlines as the first port of call for hundreds of thousands of African and Middle Eastern refugees hoping to make a new life in Europe. After spending months living on the island and engaging with its inhabitants, Rosi accumulated an incredible array of footage, portraying the history, culture and daily lives of the islanders.

  • 7:30 pm – Midnight Traveler – MV Film Center, followed by Discussion Speakers:

Moderator: Robert Carey – Policy Adviser, The Exodus Institute, Former Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, and OSF’s Leadership in Government Fellow

Wendy Young – President of Kids In Need of Defense

Hon. Mimi Tsankov – National Officer, National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ), New York Immigration Judge


When the Taliban puts a bounty on Afghan director Hassan Fazili’s head, he is forced to flee with his wife and two young daughters. Capturing their uncertain journey, Fazili shows firsthand the dangers facing refugees seeking asylum and the love shared between a family on the run.

DAY 2: Saturday, July 27

Finding a Home – Resettlement of refugees, asylum seekers, DREAMers, and immigrants.

This is Home is an intimate portrait of four Syrian refugee families arriving in America and struggling to find their footing. Displaced from their homes and separated from loved ones, they are given eight months of assistance from the International Rescue Committee to become self-sufficient. As they learn to adapt to challenges, including the newly imposed travel ban, their strength and resilience are tested. It is a universal story, highlighted by humor and heartbreak, about what it’s like to start over, no matter the obstacles.

  • 7:30 pm – New Homeland – MV Film Center, followed by Discussion Speakers:

Introduction: Barbara Kopple – Director of New Homeland

Mark Hetfield – President & CEO, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society

Cecilia Wang – Deputy Legal Director of National ACLU

Ed Shapiro – The Shapiro Foundation

Two-time Academy Award winner Barbara Kopple (Harlan County, USA) chronicles the experiences of five refugee children from war-torn Syria and Iraq whose families have resettled in Canada. In this sweetly observed film, Kopple follows the boys for two weeks at a summer camp in the Canadian wilderness. We watch as some boys thrive while others struggle and the best intentions of the camp counselors are put to the test.

DAY 3: Sunday, July 28

The FuturePolicy and Challenges in the U.S. – Future policies and challenges on refugees, asylum seekers, DREAMers, and immigration, including effects of climate changes on migration.

  • 4:30 pm – Soufra – Capawock Theater

Soufra follows the inspirational story of intrepid social entrepreneur, Mariam Shaar – a refugee who has spent her entire life in the 69-year-old Burl El Barajneh refugee camp south of Beirut, Lebanon.




Moderator: Michael Abramowitz – President of Freedom House

Ambassador Melanne Verveer – Executive Director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security at Georgetown University

Esther Olavarria – Former Obama Administration DHS official

David Shahoulian – Counsel to U.S. Congress/House Subcommittee on Immigration

Tolu Olubunmi – Founder and CEO of Lions Write

The River and the Wall follow five friends on an immersive adventure through the unknown wilds of the Texas borderlands as they travel 1200 miles from El Paso to the Gulf of Mexico on horses, mountain bikes, and canoes.