I, Immigrant: First Responders & Essential Workers in the Corona War


Did You Know?
More than 1 in 6 U.S. healthcare workers are immigrants. In the states hardest hit by the coronavirus, California and New York, more than a third of all healthcare workers are immigrants. Also there are other immigrant Essential Workers on the front lines making sacrifices in order to save lives and keep the country running in the brutal battle against the Coronavirus. Essential Workers have not been able to work from home during the shutdown, but rather have continued to go to their normal jobs, bringing them into contact on a daily basis with COVID-19 patients or the general public or fellow workers in unsafe conditions.

What better time than now to show the world how immigrants put their lives on the line to save the nation?

We are calling on all US immigrants on the front lines of the Coronavirus War—in the fields of health care, emergency response, public transportation, package delivery, food production or grocery retail — to pick up a camera and share your experience with your fellow Americans. The competition will be held from now through 15 December 2020.


I, Immigrant is a competition film series launched by CineEqual, a program dedicated to social justice cinema. Beginning with Season One: First Responders & Essential Workers in the Corona War, future seasons will put the spotlight on immigrants from other walks of life who have had a positive impact on their communities, or who have reason to hope they will achieve their aspirations.

Participation is open to amateur and expert filmmakers alike. We start the competition from now until 15 December 2020.. All entries will be screened by CWB for appropriate content and posted on I,Immigrant page and the websites of partner organizations.

The award ceremony will be held at the Lumiere Music Hall Beverly Hills, CA, at 11AM on Sunday, December 20, 2020.

Eligibility to Participate
Participation in I, Immigrant is open to both amateur and professional filmmakers in the US except to persons officially responsible for administering, advising, and/or judging the competition. Participants 16 and younger require written parental consent to be considered.

Films in languages other than English may be submitted provided they are subtitled in English.

General Theme
The heroism of US immigrant essential workers in the front lines of the Coronavirus War.
Genres: Documentary

Content Restrictions
Pornography (child or adult), hate speech, promotion of racial, ethnic, gender-based, and/or religious bigotry, libel, and inciting violence and social disturbance will not be accepted.
Duration: 60 Seconds – 40 minutes
Medium: Digital film shot on a cell phone, video or movie camera

Jury & Awards
A five-member jury composed of individuals committed to immigrants will evaluate the films and select the award winners.

The films will be judged on how well they communicate the role of immigrant essential workers in the war against the Coronavirus in the US. The factors that will be taken into consideration include the context, the audio-visual quality, and the verbal content (if any) of the films.

Juried awards of $1,000, $600, and $400 will be will be given to the top three I, Immigrant films respectively.

Call for Entries public announcement: NOW
Opening date to accept submissions April 12, 2020
Final deadline to submit films: 1st of December  2020
Start date for online posting on CineEqual: as soon as the first film has been received.
Jury and Audience evaluations: December 5, 2020
Film Competition awards announcement and ceremony at Music Hall Theater, Los Angeles : December 20, 2020

Submit your film to I, Immigrant festival page in FilmFreeway for free.

Thank you,

Cinema Without Borders

I, Immigrant Festival Director

Bijan Tehrani, founder and director of I, Immigrant and founder of Cinema Without Borders (CWB) and CineEqual is an award-winning author of children’s books and short films. Tehrani has been a passionate advocate of human rights, which he has actively pursued as a filmmaker, -historian, and -critic over the past five decades.
Tehrani initiated CineEqual, a multi-faceted program that includes I, Immigrant and is administered by the CWB Foundation, in 2018. Since its founding in 2005, CWB has interviewed and introduced over 2,000 filmmakers from around the globe, a majority of them champions of social justice and human rights.

Terry George, Academy winner and director of Hotel Rwanda, had this to say on the 10th anniversary of CWB: ”At a time when media consolidation is threatening diverse and unique voices, Cinema Without Borders provides a forum for underrepresented perspectives and stories. Now more than ever, we need to reach across cultural, political and national lines. Cinema Without Borders is part of this critical work.”


I, Immigrant Advisory Board

Keely Badgers is Executive Director of MOZAIK, a new millennial-led philanthropic organization committed to exploring and modeling new practices in philanthropy with disruptive, creative, and catalytic potential. Based in Los Angeles, CA, Keely leads the foundation’s strategic grantmaking, programs and community engagements, working with a range of nonprofit organizations in the local, national and international advocacy space.

As a millennial expert and advocate on international human rights and development issues,
Keely pioneers’ durable solutions for underrepresented voices, communities and causes by working to democratize philanthropy through participatory grantmaking praxis.

Bambadjan Bamba is an actor, filmmaker, and immigrant rights advocate. He has been featured in numerous hit television shows, including NBC’s The Good Place, ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, HBO’s Sopranos and in blockbuster films, Marvel’s Black Panther, DC Comic’s Suicide Squad and the Oscar-nominated Beginners. In 2017, Bambadjan publicly disclosed that he was a recipient of the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) and has ever since used his inspirational story to change the conversation around immigration.
Bambadjan gives talks at college campuses, events, and media outlets around the U.S. His writings have appeared in the Washington Post, on NBC and on CNN, and he is a contributor to the New York Times bestseller American Like Me: Reflections on life between cultures by award-winning actress America Ferrera. Bambadjan is the recipient of ACLU’s Courageous Advocate Award and the NILC (National Immigration Law Center) Courageous Luminary award. He serves as a Define American ambassador and is a board member for the African Artists Association.


Rodrigo Garcia is a Mexican film director that has directed a variety of independent films, including the award-winning “Nine Lives”; the three-time Academy Award-nominated feature “Albert Nobbs,” starring Glenn Close; and “Mother and Child,” starring Annette Bening, Naomi Watts and Samuel L. Jackson. In 2000, Rodrigo’s first film as a writer and director, “Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her,” won the Un Certain Regard Award at the Cannes Film Festival. “Last Days in the Desert,” starring Ewan McGregor, premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and this past January, “Four Good Days,” starring Glenn Close and Mila Kunis premiered at Sundance as well, which was written and directed by Rodrigo.

Among his television credits are the cable series “In Treatment,” on which he served as executive producer and showrunner for the first season and received a Writers Guild of America Award in the New Series category. Other TV credits include “Sopranos,” “Six Feet Under,” “Carnivȧle” and “Big Love,” for which he directed the pilot episode and was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series. Garcia also directed the pilot for CBS’s hit drama” Bull” starring Michael Weatherly and the upcoming ”Party of Five” reboot from Freeform and Sony Pictures Television.

Garcia is also the Co-Chief Executive Officer of Indigenous Media, a next generation digital studio focused on producing original content for digital and emerging platforms worldwide. He is Co-Creator of WIGS, the digital drama channel offering over 180 episodes of scripted content. For WIGS, Rodrigo wrote and directed the WIGS series “Blue,” starring Julia Stiles, and “Christine,” starring America Ferrera.

Marcy Garriott is an independent documentary filmmaker based in Austin, Texas. An electrical engineer and still photographer coming out of college, she was a telecommunications executive for 15 years before turning to filmmaking and social activism. Her Director/Producer credits include the award-winning documentary films SPLIT DECISION and INSIDE THE CIRCLE. Marcy also produced THE LEAST OF THESE (about immigrant child detention) and the CNN documentary AN UNREAL DREAM: THE MICHAEL MORTON STORY. Most recently she served as an Executive Producer on the documentary films PEACE OFFICER and BUILDING THE AMERICAN DREAM. Marcy is a former board member and President of the Austin Film Society, and a current Advisory Board member of Cine Las Americas


Barbara Hines is the founder of the University of Texas Law School Immigration Clinic which she directed and co-directed from 1999 to 2014 and where she currently serves as an adjunct professor. She was a Senior Fellow at the Emerson Collective (2014-17) with her primary focus on the detention of immigrant families. She served on the Board of the National Immigration Project (1997-2019) and currently co-chairs the Board of Grassroots Leadership, an abolitionist organization dedicated to reducing mass immigration and criminal incarceration.

Professor Hines’s awards include the Ohtli (“Road”) Award from the Foreign Secretary of Mexico (2018); the National Women’s Political Caucus Women of Courage Award, and the Spirit of CHLSA award of the Chicano/Hispanic Law Students Assoc. of Univ. of Texas School of Law (2015); the Massey Award for Teaching from the same law school (2014); the National Lawyers Guild Carol King Award (2010); the MALDEF Excellence in Legal Services Award (2009); the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Elmer Fried Excellence in Teaching (2007); and the AILA Jack Wasserman Award for Excellence in Litigation (1992).

Professor Hines has litigated many cases in federal and immigration courts, including the lawsuit leading to the closure of the Hutto immigrant family detention center. She helped the drafting and passage of in-state tuition legislation for undocumented students in Texas, the first of such laws in the U.S.

Barbara Hines received her B.A. with honors in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin, attended the University of Texas School of Law and received her J.D. from Northeastern University.

Susan Morgan Cooper is a director, producer and writer. Her credits include:
To the Moon and Back, Documentary, Director/Producer/Writer 2016; Hopper, Documentary, Producer/Writer 2013; Mulberry Child, Documentary, Director/Producer/Writer; An Unlikely Weapon, Documentary, Director/Producer/Writer 2008; Making of Shadows in The Sun, Documentary, Director/Producer/Writer 2005; Heroes and Sheroes, Television Series, Director/Producer/Writer 2000; Mirjana: One Girl’s Journey, Documentary, Director/Producer/Writer 1997; Stringers, Narrative Short Director/Producer/Writer 1990; Hadley’s Rebellion, Narrative Feature Associate Producer 1989.


Daniela Kon is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, producer and consultant working at the intersection of human rights, global development and impact media. She is a board member of the Human Rights Watch Film Committee and HRW’s Women’s Rights Committee Los Angeles. She founded SIMA and the Social Impact Media Awards in 2012, and via SIMA Studios, reaches over 50,000 students and 5 million viewers in over 40 countries every year. Today, SIMA is the largest network of social impact creatives with the broadest global footprint, helping advance education and empower engagement for social change from the grassroots level up.
Born in Frankfurt, Germany, Daniela earned an MA in Documentary Production at the University of London. She moved to New York in 2003 working for Emmy award-winning director Marc Levin at Blowback Productions and was the researcher and assistant editor for HBO and THINK Film’s “Protocols of Zion,” an Official Sundance Selection. She founded impact agency, DEEDA, in 2005 and has since worked with filmmakers, NGOs and aid organizations around the world. Her film credits range from the award-winning documentary TALIBE, the UN FAO Ending Hunger Campaign, and the Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development, to collaborations with grassroots initiatives in Education, Voluntourism, Youth Leadership, Girls and Women’s Empowerment, LGBT Rights, Water Management, Children’s Rights, and Modern-day Slavery.

Neda Nobari is an Iranian-American businesswoman and philanthropist with a mission to support social and environmental justice through the arts, education and impact cinema.

Ms. Nobari’s most recent Executive Producer credits include the 2019 Oscar nominated short Los Comandos as part of the Humanity On The Move series – the story of a million people displaced by war, violence and natural disasters, who are seeking refuge and a new place to call home, as well as Yours Truly (2019), a feature-length documentary that follows artist and activist Ai Weiwei as he inspires public compassion for prisoners of conscience around the world.

Her latest film, Coup 53, is a Theatrical feature documentary on the story of Operation Ajax, the CIA/MI6 staged coup in 1953 in Iran that overthrew Prime Minister Mossadegh. Directed by Taghi Amirani and edited and co-written by Walter Murch, the exposé premiered with high audience acclaim at the 2019 Telluride Film Festival and is currently screening at festivals internationally.

In 2016, Ms. Nobari accepted the Hivos Tiger Award alongside director Babak Jalali and producer Marjaneh Moghimi for Radio Dreams, winner of the 45th International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR).

Ms. Nobari serves on the Boards of Trustees and Advisory Boards of a number of nonprofit organizations.

Pamela Yates is the co-founder and creative director of Skylight, a non-profit dedicated to creating feature-length documentaries and digital media tools that advance awareness of human rights and the quest for justice by implementing multi-year outreach campaigns designed to engage, educate and activate social change.
Yates is the director of When the Mountains Tremble that won the Sundance Special Jury Award; executive producer of the Academy Award winning Witness to War; and director of State of Fear: The Truth About Terrorism, which has been translated into 47 languages and broadcast in 154 countries. Her film Granito: How to Nail a Dictator, for which she was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship, was used as key forensic evidence in the trial of Efraín Ríos Montt for genocide in Guatemala. Her third film in the Guatemalan trilogy, 500 YEARS, had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and is currently in wide release. Yates is a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, Writers Guild of America, and the International Documentary Association.


About Author

Bijan Tehrani

Bijan Tehrani a film director, film critic and writer, works as editor in chief of Cinema Without Borders while teaching Language of Film and Film History at workshops nationwide. Bijan has won several awards in international film festivals and book fairs for his short films and children's books.

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