A PLACE TO BREATHE explores the universality of trauma and resilience through the eyes of immigrant and refugee health care practitioners and patients. This 86-minute documentary intertwines the personal journeys of those who are transcending their own obstacles by healing others. Combining cinema vérité and animation, the film highlights the creative strategies by which immigrant communities in the U.S. survive and thrive. Please watch and share the trailer!
A PLACE TO BREATHE just won the Interfaith Documentary Award at the 2020 St. Louis International Film Festival! The film premiered at San Francisco DocFest in September 2020, and did a two-week run at the Roxie Theater SF (virtually) in October 2020, followed by Alexander Valley Film Festival and American Public Health Association Film Festival.
Check out this interview about the film via Wexner Center for the Arts and the reviews in Eat Drink Films and Oaklandside. You can also listen to these recent radio interviews with the film's director/producer Michelle Grace Steinberg on KPFA's Letters and Politics and KSRO Sonoma County News.
Rodrigue is a newly arrived refugee from war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, who, along with his mother and six siblings, is struggling to adapt to life in Lowell, Massachusetts. Training to become a community health worker at the local clinic, he ultimately aspires to be a social worker to help his community heal from trauma. Socheat, a Cambodian immigrant, seeks tools to combat the stress of supporting her aging parents, teenage daughter, and disabled brother on a manicurist’s salary. The entire family experiences the benefits of meditation classes and culturally tailored wellness approaches at the health center. Sue, a nurse to both families, examines the continued impact of her own traumatic experiences, thriving in the U.S. after surviving the genocide in Cambodia and now supporting others to do the same.
Across the country in Oakland, California, Edgar and Yania, a young couple from Mexico and Uruguay, provide healing to their community through outreach to day laborers and Spanish-language yoga classes. Their aspirations to become a social worker and a nurse are threatened by possible deportation due to their tenuous immigration status under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). At the same health clinic, Norma, a Guatemalan immigrant, provides interpretation into her community’s indigenous Mayan language, while she watches new arrivals from her homeland fight for asylum and safety.
Common ground and chance connection join these unique stories as the film humanizes those who have migrated here, sharing their wisdom and perspectives that enrich and strengthen our communities. This is more critical than ever with the devastating effects that COVID-19 is having on communities of color and immigrant populations. A PLACE TO BREATHE moves audiences to envision new understandings of wellness for all.
For more details on the clinics featured in the project see:
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