I, Immigrant International Online Film Festival, announced the winners of its first edition

Burbank, California – April 4, 2023 – Today Cinema Without Borders Foundation announced I, Immigrant International Online Film Festival winning films in an online award ceremony.

Bijan Tehrani Editor in Chief of Cinema Without Borders and Founder and Director of the I, Immigrant, opened the award ceremony by a report on the first edition of the festival: ” For our first edition of the I, Immigrant International Online Film Festival, organized by Cinema Without Borders Foundation, we received 449 submissions. The CWBF Selection Committee chose 33 films and from those films, two programmers, assigned by CWBF, nominated 17 films to receive the I, Immigrant’s Best Films Awards. by our jury. The Best Film, has received a $1000 cash award and Second Place film $600 and Third Place $400″

The following video covers award announcements and award acceptance speeches by the winning filmmakers:

Winners of the first edition of I, Immigrant International Film Festival:
Best Film (receiving $1000 cash award):
Mango House
USA – Directed by Ross Taylor
Mango House is a film about the largest shared space for refugees in the greater West and the risk-taker behind it all. The film lends insight into the refugee experience through a heightened level of intimacy and access and exposes levels of racism and injustice in areas ranging from access to medical care to how we police underserved areas.

Second Place ( receiving $600 cash award):
USA – Directed by: Thomas Sideris
When most people were trapped in their homes around the world because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Afro-Haitian refugees continued to wander to space. They were crossing mountains, rivers and seas of Latin America, with the main goal of reaching the Mexican border with the USA, in order to finally cross into the “Promised Land”.

Haitian refugees are people chased by poverty and hunger, natural disasters and political instability. They are the “Marabou”, which like the marabou birds, migrate for a better fortune. Marabou is a term of Haitian origin denoting multiracial admixture. The term, which comes originally from the African Marabouts, describes the offspring of a Haitian person of mixed race: European, African, Taíno and South Asian.

The I, Immigrant International Film Festival  is a competition film series launched by the Cinema Without Borders Foundation, dedicated to social justice cinema. Beginning with Season One: I, Immigrant puts the spotlight on immigrants from all walks of life, who have had a positive impact on their communities or who have reason to hope they will achieve their aspirations. This festival also showcases immigrants’ problems in our world today.

Third Place (receiving $400 cash award): 
Common Roots
USA – Directed by Anna Lamond, Masha Vernik
Common Roots tells the story of a community under attack that comes together by growing food. Like many urban neighborhoods, East Boston faces rapid gentrification. Its immigrant residents are being displaced. People face food insecurity. Climate change is bringing extreme floods.

Common Roots shows how a community garden joyfully builds resilience to these threats. Using food as our common thread, Eastie Farm builds bridges. Neighbors of different backgrounds come together to grow food that anyone can harvest. By existing on land that would otherwise be developed, the garden is instead a welcoming space for neighbors to come, listen to music together, and get to know one another. The Coronavirus pandemic makes this message more important than ever: growing food in our communities makes us stronger together.

I, Immigrant Jury Members:
Pamela Asobo Anchang,
Editor, TV/Radio Host, IMpact/ Africa Speaks, The Immigrant Magazine
Pamela A. Anchang was born in Cameroon, Africa. As a child, she dreamed of becoming a journalist, a passion that she cultivated as a young child radio-host in her native Cameroon for a program called Children’s Magazine. Finding it almost impossible to pursue her dream in Cameroon, she left for the United States of America amid political upheavals.

She created The Immigrant Magazine online in 2003 as a medium to publish her articles and provide informative resources to immigrants. In 2004 she started a free print publication that grew from 4-60 pages. In 2013 for greater and national circulation the print magazine morphed into a daily web blog and weekly e-newsletter. This platform is currently being transformed into an online TV network that will aggregate and distribute compelling digital content about immigrants in the US. Her magazine has served companies and institutions such as Walt Disney, The City of Los Angeles, AIDS Walk NY/LA, The Hollywood Carnival, MoneyGram International, Los Angeles Metro, multiple small businesses, famous ethnic film festivals, and multi-cultural events in Los Angeles for outreach to immigrant communities. Today Pamela is the creator and host of IMPact With Pamela Anchang on KPFK Pacifica Radio for Los Angeles, Southern California,

Béla Bunyik
Béla Bunyik is the founder and director of the Los Angeles Hungarian Film Festival. Headquarters: Calabasas, California, United States

For years, the festival has been giving opportunities to feature films, documentaries, for short films and animations that would otherwise never have been seen in the United States. The festival also presents films from other countries, with Hungarian talent. At the Los Angeles Hungarian Film Festival, more than 400 Hungarian feature films, short films, a documentary film, animation, student film and TV film were shown. The Hungarian Film Festival in Los Angeles attracts a remarkable and diverse audience. The 20th Festival was held October 27 to November 2, 2022, at the Laemmle’s Monica film Center.

In recent years, Bunyik have organized numerous Oscar and Golden Globe campaigns for Hungarian films. He was the representative of the Hungarian National Film Fund in the United States. For years also represented the Hungarian Producers Association at the American Film Market, Location Expo in Los Angeles and the Cannes Film Festival. Béla Bunyik is the founding president of the Los Angeles Hungarian Film and Theater Society.

Vladek Juszkiewicz
Born in Glasgow, Poland. He graduated from the Szczecin Technical University with a degree in Engineering. While attending the University he became a member of The Szczecin Technical University Choir, serving as a President and manager of the group. His travels with the choir to 18 counties including the United States where he visited the White House.

When he moved to Warsaw, he became the manager of the Polish international star singer Maryla Rodowicz. After immigrating to the United States, he worked on 11 films with the late Paul Leder. In 1999 he founded the Polish Film Festival Los Angeles and served as a director till 2019. Now is serving as the Festival’s Programmer.

Served on the juries of the Los Angeles Hungarian Film Festival, the Los Angeles South East European Film Festival, New York Polish Film Festival and Palm Springs International Film Festival. Awarded by the Polish Government with the Cavalier & Officer Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland and Gloria Artis for promoting Polish culture abroad.

Arati Misro
Arati has dedicated most of her career to storytelling, through the medium of film and TV, and has worked in independent film sales, marketing and distribution in the U.S and abroad. She has produced several award winning films, and hails from one of the top film schools in the world, AFI, with an MFA degree. She has worked for major studios like Fox and Sony.

Misro is a proud Native of California. Misro holds an undergrad degree in Cultural Anthropology and Mass Communications from U.C San Diego.

Misro is currently producing a feature film called ” LoveBeats” among several other projects that are development. Her career has taken her through various parts of the world and enjoys learning about other cultures and traditions. She has spent extensive time in India pursuing her passion in educating and empowering women.

The other I, Immigrant Nominees:
The Outlanders – from HKG to SEA
USA – Directed by Azure Kwok
After the 2019 Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill Movement in Hong Kong, a young Hongkonger chose to leave her hometown and made her way to Seattle. She talks about how this decision marked a pivotal turning point in her life.

Conversations with Myself
Turkey – Directed by Sabina Kariat
Karagöz puppetry is a traditional Turkish type of shadow puppetry that dates back to the Ottoman empire in regions which are now modern-day Turkey and Syria. In this project, we contemporized the craft of karagöz by representing new identities from the present in Turkey, specifically the identities of Syrian refugees. I co-created this film with a cohort of Syrian-Turkish youth who wrote their own monologues and animated them in the style of karagöz puppetry, visualizing different sides of their complex identities.

These Aren’t People
USA – Directed by Ben Rosales
The story follows a little girl’s journey after being tear-gassed, torn from her mother’s arms, and caged like an animal by ICE agents simply for seeking asylum at the US/Mexico border. A bigfoot comes to her aid and transforms symbols of hatred and fear into symbols of compassion and love.

La Colectiva: Immigrant Diaries
USA – Directed by Leigh-Anna Nielsen
La Colectiva: Immigrant Diaries was a dream I had to share the stories of the unaccompanied Latinx immigrant children that I was writing about in Fall 2020. Inspired by my Global Studies thesis on the ethics of placing these migrant children in foster care, I realized that there were many untold stories of heartbreak, trauma, and loss. Bringing these stories to life and in an open forum where people were welcomed to share their immigration experiences with me verbally and physically became my passion. I interviewed immigrant children, first and second-generation children, and family members of migrants and asked them to move through their experiences with their bodies. Since these realities are rooted in the act of migrating, it only felt appropriate to make the connection with bodily movement. All of the stories told are true and resemble many truths that persist today with the United States’ violent border politics. To humanize the immigrants here in our country today and those yet to come, this video essay and performance art piece symbolizes sacrifice, love, strength, and hope. No human is illegal on stolen land. We must do better and advocate for better.

USA – Directed by Sandeep Parupudi
This short showcases a story of an immigrant stuck in a country during COVID-19 pandemic. This is a voice for many other immigrants that shared the same experience and struggles during the pandemic. What can an immigrant do when the gut feeling about something  is about to happen indeed takes place, yet remains so helpless due to the nature of the pandemic?

Undocumented: A Dream of Education
USA – Directed by: Elisa Herrmann
This short documentary is a touching tale about the struggles of an undocumented Colombian immigrant and the dream of getting an education in the United States. Diana Barrero-Burgos shares her personal journey seeking education to obtain her American dream. Through this documentary, we hope to inspire and encourage the undocumented community with a successful story of grit, perseverance, and passion for education. Sí se puede!

Bad Hombrewood
USA – Directed by Guillermo Casarin
Guillermo Casarín, an aspiring young filmmaker, came to the United States from Mexico to pursue his dreams of becoming a film director. Now, he is on the verge of graduating from one of the best film schools in the world, but after experiencing racism in the country and film industry, he finds himself questioning his place in Hollywood. Through compelling interviews–such as with Academy Award-winning directors Phil Lord, Lee Unkrich, and Guillermo Del Toro, and Melissa Fumero from the Golden Globe-winning show Brooklyn Nine-Nine–and archival footage, Bad Hombrewood reveals the dark side of Hollywood’s history and the challenges Latinx filmmakers face while trying to succeed in the entertainment industry.

Does Healthcare Care? #WHYICARE
USA – Directed by Bryan Marcel Bilbao
This video is about the inspiration I have as a future provider (Physician Assistant) through years of watching my Nonna get neglected and abused by the healthcare field for being “foreign” and not being able to speak English or comprehend things as easily as native English speakers in America. I interviewed 10 different people of various backgrounds and/or identities to discuss with them how they feel about the healthcare system in terms of their own background. Their backgrounds involve various races, color, LGBTQ+ communities, sexual orientations, and those with disabilities. A heartfelt and insightful talk by different members in various communities pleading that the healthcare system needs to start caring more about its patients and not just the disorders and conditions we treat. We are all people and deserve to be treated as such by all fields, especially the healthcare field.

USA – Directed by Anthony Collings
Three immigrants tell their painful stories of life in Michigan under Trump.
Sam’s story was wrenching and emotional. Nicely-shot and written. Loved the opening music and natural sound on the Imam story. The coffin anecdote was dramatic. Felipe’s profile from its opening aerial drone shot to the freeze of the smiling graduate and his personal success story were uplifting”. James Michael Barnett

USA – Directed by Robert Greenwald
Millions of people in our country are losing jobs, struggling to pay rent, and put food on the table due to the Covid-19 pandemic. These millions include DACA recipients, Temporary Protected Status holders, farm workers, and all immigrants. We need to ensure that everyone’s health and well-being are protected.

Mexico – Directed by Jared Jacobsen
An immigrant from Haiti, a historian, and the director of a shelter cross paths before and at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic in Tijuana, Mexico. Through their knowledge and experiences, they tell stories of determination and resilience from three unique perspectives.

USA – Directed by Max Stein
When Sky’s family escaped war in Syria, they did not know what the future held. Now in Jordan, Sky has dreams of moving abroad and opening a studio that teaches other refugees what saved his life: Dance. This is not easy, however, as Sky must face many social and economic obstacles as a refugee.

A Poet’s Seat
USA – Directed by Martin Del Carpio
“What is an alien?” a man asks amid smoke, shadow and light. The question is daunting, metaphysical if you will. We may all feel like outsiders sometime, but what happens when the feeling is constant? With that in mind, we embark upon a journey that millions of people around the globe will recognize as their own: moving to another country.
In raw emotion, we experience the story of a man who moves to America as a child. We accompany him as he reminisces: the first sight of snow, the first day of school, the palpable eeriness of what is new. We witness his difficulties to find work and overcome other obstacles. We feel the anguish and the fear, and we can see the trap. Metaphorically and literally.

Brazil – Directed by: Fernanda Parrado
Directed by Fernanda Parrado, Metamorphosis is a
personal experimental film about the filmmaker’s own
experiences as an immigrant in New York City. A tribute
to all immigrants and their necessity of constant
movement as a form of rebirth.

Director of the Festival:

Bijan Tehrani
Bijan Tehrani founder and Editor in Chief of Cinema Without Borders (CWB) online- publication and Cinema Without Borders Foundation 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.

Bijan Tehrani has organized a numerus cultural events dealing with international cinema and social justice. The ongoing ELAC International Animation Day is an annual festival showcasing international animation and I, Immigrant International On-line Film Festival portrays the positive impact of immigrants in their new societies.

Bijan is also the creator of the Bridging the Borders Award that is offered in ten international film festival in US, UK, and Australia. Bridging the Borders Award goes to the films that help bringing people of the world closer together.

Bijan Tehrani has won several awards and has been recognized by several film festivals and cultural institutes as Ambassador of International Cinema because of his services to the world film community through 15 years of publishing Cinema Without Borders.

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.”

Cinema Without Borders Foundation, Immigrant International Online Film Festival Organizer:
Cinema Without Borders Foundation is dedicated to promotion and introduction of the international, independent and Social Justice cinema and to introduce new faces and talents outside any borders and its goal is to create international communities of filmmakers and film students and organize CWB platforms online, at film festivals and events, and within the industry and through CWB F’s own festivals and competitions.

Cinema Without Borders Foundation events and activities helps the international and independent filmmakers to introduce their work and finds financial and distribution venues. One of the goals of CWBF is to help the international filmmakers find and create new ways for producing and distributing their films.

I, Immigrant Advisory Board
Keely Badgers, Executive Director of MOZAIK Philanthropy, Bambadjan Bamba,an actor, filmmaker, and immigrant rights advocate, Rodrigo Garcia, a Mexican film director that has directed a variety of independent films, Marcy Garriott, an independent documentary filmmaker based in Austin, Texas, Barbara Hines, the founder of the University of Texas Law School Immigration Clinic , Susan Morgan Cooper,  a director, producer and writer, Daniela Kon, an award-winning documentary filmmaker, producer and consultant working at the intersection of human rights, global development and impact media, Neda Nobari , an Iranian-American businesswoman and philanthropist Pamela Yates,  the co-founder and creative director of Skylight, a non-profit dedicated to creating feature-length documentaries.

Thanks to our donors that made this event possible (in alphabetical order) : Mahasti Afshar, Chakameh Azimpour, Keely Badger, Bahman Bennett, Feridon Biglari, Pardiss Broomand, Vazrik Der-Sahakian, Milad Dylan, Rodrigo Garcia, Marcy Garriott, Firoozeh Isfahani, Mehrzad Khajenoori, Michael Libonati, Bahman Maghsoudlou,Siamak Mashal, Nazie Meghan, Ramin Niami, Hila Molkara, Nasrin Motahedeh, Mark Pellington,  Nargess Phillips, Shari Rezai, Shahla Shamloo O’Neil, Hosein Shokouh-Amiri, Ramak Tabar, Abolghassem Tehrani, James Ulmer, Ata Walizadeh, Fariborz Yousefi, and two anonymous friends of CWB Foundation


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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