Home Across Lands DVD
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(Jan 01, 2008)
HOME ACROSS LANDS is a documentary that explores the journey of resettlement-- it tells the story of a small group of Kunama refugees and how they reestablish their sense of community in their new home in America. Considered to be some of the original inhabitants of Eritrea, the Kunama people are a marginalized minority populating the remote and fertile regions near the border of Ethiopia. In 1998, war between Eritrea and Ethiopia broke out in a conflict over these border lands forcing over 4,000 Kunama to flee across the border into Northern Ethiopia. In 2000, the war ended with the Eritrean government regaining control of the disputed area, separating thousands of Kunama from their homeland and way of life. Today the Kunama wait in desolation, 45 km from the disputed Eritrean/Ethiopian border, warehoused in the Shimelba Refugee Camp in Northern Ethiopia. Life in the camp is difficult and opportunities for a better life are nonexistent, but the Kunama remain committed to their strong sense of community and family in spite of their displacement. Unwanted in Ethiopia and unable to return to their homes safely, a small number of Kunama are given the opportunity for resettlement in the United States. HOME ACROSS LANDS chronicles the journey of these newly arrived Kunama as they strive to become self-reliant, invested participants in their new home. Guiding their transition is the resettlement agency, International Institute of Rhode Island, that connects them to the resources they need as they work to establish a new community and better life for their families.
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This quote from Azerbaijani geneticist Urkhan Alakbarov, paints the picture of how most people in the US deal with the overwhelming challenges of refugees around the world. Our lives are comfortable and convenient and when we hear a tale of someone else being displaced from their home, forced to flea by foot, and then warehoused in a camp for years on end we can't even imagine how difficult that must be.
Well, finally there is a movie that brings the difficult life of a refugee to the big screen in a thought provoking and heart-felt way. Home Across Lands is a movie about Kunaamen refugees who have been forced to flea their homes in Eritrea. They have been housed for years in makeshift dirt encampments in Ethiopia with nothing to do and no hope for moving their lives forward.
Shot on location in Ethiopia the movie has stunning landscapes and incredible cinematography. The camp interviews are compelling and the refugees journey from the camp to their new lives in Providence, RI is remarkable.
I highly recommend this movie for anyone who is interested in knowing more about the daily life of a refugee and the difficulties of resettling a refugee in a safe home country. As a teacher, I am eager to share this movie with my students to give them a better idea of what the experience is all about
It never devolves into a voyeuristic piece that portrays these folks as anything other than people. They are never shown as victims beyond their circumstances, which are, to be honest, bleak initially, and brings you along for the slow, steady climb to the beginning of their new lives. Also notable is its portrayal of the people assigned to help integrate these folks into American society. Theirs is not an easy job, nor is it in any way exciting. It is hard work, nuts-and-bolts stuff that only committed and resourceful people can do. When they come together with the Kunama in fashioning a new life, it is truly inspirational.