HER-Story x Migrant Dreams
In March, The MUFF Society switched over to our documentary series, HER-STORY, where I had the opportunity to present a wonderful and inspiring group of women and two grass-root organizations.
We screened Constant Refugee for our short presentation, co-directed by Leila Almawy and PC Barefoot. It was such a pleasure to have Leila attend the event and share her thoughts in a post-film Q&A. Leila is an Employment Advisor by day, but her passion lies in documentary filmmaking. She is an activist and organizer in her city as she believes that real justice will come as communities in struggle build greater trust to fight for their own self-determination.
Constant Refugee chronicles the struggles of one family trying to escape a history of war torn countries and violence to arrive safely in Canada. From the escape of the Armenian Genocide by Saifan's Grandfather to Saifan's own displacement due to the Iraq War and the Syrian War, it would seem that Saifan Estefan's family legacy is that of discrimination, war, and flight.
What makes Leila a great fit for documentary filmmaking is her calm, cool, and collected manner. She is honest, intelligent, and gives her opinion wholeheartedly. It is these character traits that make her a force to be reckoned with. (Stay tuned for her miniMUFF profile!)
For our feature presentation, we screened Migrant Dreams, which premiere at Hot Docs 2016. The team is comprised of award-winning director, Min Sook Lee and award-winning producer Lisa Valencia-Svensson. Together, they unveiled a shocking truth about employment practices in Canada with our migrant worker population. Here is what we learned from watching the doc and listening to the Q&A:
From living in storage crates, to owing a “recruiter” rent money on a weekly basis, people from all over the world are targeted by large organizations in rural Ontario to come work in Canada. These are people who believe Canada is the ticket to financial security for them and their families.
While the law states that it is the employer's responsibility to pay for and care for migrant workers, most workers are illegally hit with a $4,000 - $6,000 debt that takes them up to four years to pay off. This debt is imposed by the recruiter, a go between hired by the company execs, and if it is not paid, the workers are threatened with extortion.
The Canada we think we know is immediately questioned and revealed to be another country buying into the mentality of exploitability.
WOW, right? Both films were so brilliant and having both directors and producer at the screening was such a wonderful added touch and special experience for our audience!
We’d like to extend a warm thank you to Caregivers’ Action Centre and Migrante Canada, two local organizations that work alongside the the themes that are presented in Migrant Dreams. Representatives from each attended the lobby reception and talked about their grass-root work before the screening.
Our next screening is coming up in July! Brett Story, an amazing filmmaker from Sudbury, Ontario will be presenting her Hot Docs 2016 premiere, A Prison in 12 Landscapes.
So much love from your doc programmer,