Immigrant Stories


TUESDAY, October 29TH / DOORS AT 6:00, Film Viewing 6:30 FREE


The theme for October will be “Immigrant Identity & the Saratoga Springs Community.” There will be a very special film presentation of “How to Tell a True Immigrant Story,” a 360 VR (virtual reality) video.

Director Aggie Ebrahimi Bazaz was an artist-in-residence at the Skidmore College MDOCS Storytellers Institute in summer 2016.  Responding to an intensive series of immigration enforcement actions in Saratoga Springs in the summer and fall of 2017, Bazaz and a team of co-workers began collaboration with immigrant members of the community, including participants in the Estamos Aqui (We Are Here) photography workshop organized by Saratoga County EOC.  The collaboration developed creative approaches for reflecting on the daily experiences of immigrant members of the community, their values and worldviews and sense of belonging within intersecting systems.

As an immigrant from Iran who sat beside her mother through countless immigration interviews, Bazaz uses the 360 VR video format as a means of placing the viewer in an interrogation room where it is deliberately unclear whether the questions come from an ICE investigator or a documentary filmmaker.  Other voices in a contemplative, lyrical mode offer resistance to the atmosphere of surveillance.

“How to Tell a True Immigrant Story” was the first-ever 360 film to be selected in the emerging filmmakers category at the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland (one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious), and received a Special Jury Mention at the Encounters festival in Bristol, England.  The presentation at Caffe Lena follows the film’s American premiere at the Adirondack Film Festival in Glens Falls on October 19.

The film runs just 12 minutes and will be viewed on phones placed inside cardboard headset VR viewers. Viewers will be provided. Audience members are encouraged to bring their own smartphones and headphones. A few phones and headsets will be available to borrow. After the viewing, there will be a brief presentation by members of the filmmaking team, followed by open dialogue facilitated by students from Skidmore College’s Intergroup Relations program.

The video presentation is co-sponsored by the John B. Moore Documentary Studies Collaborative (MDOCS) at Skidmore College and the Saratoga County Economic Opportunity Council (EOC).

“Immigrant Stories: In Their Own Words”  is organized and sponsored by the Saratoga Immigration Coalition – a network of concerned individuals, faith communities and civic groups.   Together, the coalition seeks to welcome immigrants, raise awareness, show support and appreciation for the contributions of immigrants vital, but often unseen role in our community.

The inspiration for this series came from hearing stories on a daily basis when preparing for the  “All Are Welcome Here” Walk & Vigil, sponsored by the Saratoga Immigration Coalition, Aug. 2017.  It became apparent that hearing these stories from the immigrants themselves would allow space for personal healing as well as a different approach for educating the public, providing a forum to find common ground. The storytelling series is meant to create a space for dialogue for presenters and listeners in a casual, safe environment.

For more information call 518-951-0702 or visit the SIC on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Saratoga-Immigration-Coalition-458540114506608/