Seattle International Film Festival “American Refugees” Premiere (Haley’s Recap)

Seattle University, four animated shorts, and a determination to change the way people see family homelessness

Written by Haley Jo Lewis, Student Project Assistant for the Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness

Seattle University: empowering leaders for a just and humane world. But what does that really look like?

It was a sold-out show on May 19 at the Harvard Exit theatre. While a sold-out show is not necessarily unusual, the content of the films made it remarkable. The films, titled collectively as American Refugees, are four animated shorts that tell the stories of families, homelessness and their resilience against all odds.

siff harvard exit theatre
Marquee at the Harvard Exit theatre. Photo by Steve Schimmelman.

Seattle University’s Film and Family Homelessness Project had recruited five professional filmmakers to create these films. Seattle University students were involved throughout the process — assisting the filmmakers as Student Fellows, helping to develop discussion guides, designing collateral and finally, volunteering at the event itself.

siff  Tanya Evanchak and Bridget Baker, student film fellows
Tanya Evanchak and Bridget Baker, two of the Student Film Fellows, wait in front of the theatre, passing out tickets. Check out their work on the Film and Family Homelessness Tumblr page.
siff student volunteers seattle university
Some of the great Seattle University student volunteers: Jediah McCourt, Elliot Jarvimaki, Alec Gress, Jonathan Sianto, Tooba Dilshad, Katie Smith, Elizabeth Guevara, Jaimie Olle, Emma Lytle, Raymond Cancio, and Tiana Quitugua.

It was great seeing so many Seattle University students at the event, said Lindy Boustedt, producer of all four films and Project Manager of the Seattle University Film and Family Homeless Project. “You could really tell that it was a Seattle University event. They were classy, helpful, and a great representation of the university.”

siff Tiana Quitugua Sean Raffety
Tiana Quitugua, Seattle U Project on Family Homelessness and Sean Raffety, SU Student Film Fellow, help pass out programs. Photo by Steve Schimmelman.
siff line at harvard exit theatre
Attendees lining up in front of the theatre.
siff audience Harvard Exit theatre
The crowd eagerly waits for the films to start as the theatre fills up.
siff The Smiths American Refugees
The audience looks on during “The Smiths,” the first film of the night. Photo by Steve Schimmelman.
siff  filmmakers American Refugees
After the film screening, there was a Q&A with the filmmakers themselves. What a unique opportunity for the audience!
siff student volunteers seattle university
Seattle University students and volunteers Tooba Dilshad, Elizabeth Guevara and Raymond Cancio wait by the front door to greet guests to the after party.

Seattle University participants also got a chance to speak with the filmmakers and the artists who worked on the films. One particularly special guest — Tilawn, whose story was headlined in the film “The Beast Inside” — was a big hit with Seattle U students. Senior Alec Gress said, “I really liked getting to know the filmmakers, and getting to meet Tilawn!” The Seattle U students really identified with his story, as he is a young adult, much like us — except he’s not struggling to get through finals, he’s struggling to survive on the streets.

siff Firesteel green screen take action for homes
Raymond Cancio and I take a photo in front of Firesteel’s green screen photo booth. (BEFORE)
siff firesteel green screen take action fro homes
Raymond Cancio and I take a photo in front of Firesteel’s green screen photo booth. (AFTER)

At the after party, guests were not only fed and entertained, but also were given unique opportunities to engage with materials from the films. Above, another Seattle University student and I stand in front of a green screen. Below that photo, an example of one of the backdrops. Firesteel set up this super-cool photo booth, where participants are put into scenes from the animated films they had just watched…technology rules!

siff take action for homes Caitlin Ring green screen
Professor of Strategic Communications, Caitlin Ring, partaking in the green screen photo booth. Here, she is pictured on the set of “Home for Sale.”
siff green screen take action for homes student volunteers seattle university
Seattle University Students Emma Lytle and Jediah McCourt pose in front of the green screen. They are pictured on the set of “Super Dads.”

 

siff claymation Super Dads American Refugees
A real claymation set from the film “Super Dads.” The set was available for viewing at the after party, and was quite a hit with the guests.

 

siff after party
Mingling at the after party! L-R: Film Fellow Drew Christie (“The Beast Inside”), Moderator Tom Tangney of KIRO Radio, Lindy Boustedt, Film Fellow Neely Goniodsky (The Smiths”), and Animator Chris Rodgers (“Super Dads”).

All in all, it was a very successful night. I was so excited to see so many familiar faces. Seeing my peers engaging with homelessness was really exciting for me. From the packed theatre to the line for the green screen photo booth, Seattle U’s American Refugees premiere was a hit.

To watch the films and learn more about American Refugees, visit their webpage.

6 thoughts on “Seattle International Film Festival “American Refugees” Premiere (Haley’s Recap)

  1. Pingback: “Home for Sale”: Nowhere to Call Home | Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness

  2. Pingback: The Beast Inside — A Story of Relentless Positivity | Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness

  3. Pingback: The Smiths — The Film About Homelessness That Had To Be Made | Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness

  4. Pingback: The Smiths — The Film About Homelessness That Had To Be Made | Faith & Family Homelessness Project

  5. Pingback: The Stranger Genius Award for Family Homelessness Film Fellow | Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness

  6. Pingback: A new face at the Housing Alliance… is our own Haley | Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness

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