Unsettled: Seeking Refuge in America

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    Unsettled: Seeking Refuge in America

    Directed by



    84 min

    • English


    UNSETTLED is a feature-length documentary revealing the untold stories of LGBT refugees and asylum seekers who have fled intense persecution from their home countries and who are resettling in the U.S. As new leadership in America continues to demonize immigrants and drastically restrict the flow of refugees and asylum seekers into the U.S., UNSETTLED humanizes a group few people know who are desperately trying to create new and safer homes.
    Subhi, a gay Syrian refugee who, having survived multiple death threats from Islamic terrorists, beatings by a homophobic father, and a nation devastated by war, finds his voice as a leader for refugee rights in the U.S. Cheyenne and Mari, a lesbian couple from Angola who, having faced brutal harassment from family and neighbors, seek uncertain asylum through the American immigration courts while pursuing their dreams of becoming musicians. Junior, a gender non-conforming gay man from the Congo, struggles to find even basic housing and livelihood while exploring a more fluid gender identity.
    UNSETTLED takes place largely in the San Francisco Bay Area, historically a beacon for dislocated LGBT people in the U.S. While cultural narratives of a “queer promised land” still persist, the film asks whether Northern California is even practical as a place to resettle LGBT refugees, especially given the enormous gentrification, increased costs of living and scarcity of housing in recent years - a set of problems present in many American cities. What are the costs persecuted immigrants pay for seeking refuge in America? And how are everyday Americans stepping forward to help those most in need?



    Andrew Black
    Jen Gilomen
    Mike Seely
    Eva Brzeski
    Justin Melland


    Powerfully and heartbreakingly detailing the challenging process that LGBTQ refugees must go through to find safety and security while starting over in the US, Tom Shepard’s inspiring new documentary profiles four people who have come to San Francisco to save their own lives.

    San Francisco IFF

    Tom Shepard

    Tom Shepard


    For over 20 years, Filmmaker Tom Shepard has produced, directed, edited, and distributed documentary films. Four of his feature projects – SCOUT’S HONOR, KNOCKING, WHIZ KIDS and THE GROVE – have aired nationally on PBS (including POV, Independent Lens and PBS Plus). Coverage of his work has been featured prominently in the U.S. and foreign press, including reviews of three of his films in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and Boston Globe among others. Shepard’s films have played in more than 150 film festivals worldwide – including Full Frame, Silver Docs and the Sundance Film Festival (where he won two top awards in 2001.) Shepard has raised over two and a half million dollars for production of his own work and has received funding from the Independent Television Service (ITVS) four times. He is the former Chairman of New Day Films and regularly teaches documentary film in California and Colorado. In 2013, he founded the Youth Documentary Academy which he currently directs. He graduated from Stanford and lives in Colorado Springs and San Francisco.