They Live Here, Now (2018)

They Live Here, Now is an intimate portrait into the lives of residents at the refugee house, Casa Marianella, which is based in Austin, Texas.


Jason Outenreath

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They Live Here, Now is an intimate portrait into the lives of residents at the refugee house, Casa Marianella, which is based in Austin, Texas.

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11 March 2018 (USA) See more »

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An Intimate Documentary about the Experiences of Refugees
15 March 2018 | by JustCuriositySee all my reviews

They Live Here, Now was warmly received in its world premiere at Austin's SXSW Film Festival. This is a small intimate film about Austin's Casa Marianella refugee house. The humanitarian work done here is inspiring in its simplicity and its bravery. The film's power is in its intimacy. The director uses straight-forward interviews to tell the stories of refugees from numerous countries in Africa and Latin America who are struggling to overcome horrendous conditions at home and make themselves new lives in the United States. The power of this film is that in a time of anti-immigrant hatemongering is that it puts human faces on refugees. There has been some controversy over the director's decision to use an actress to portray a character in the documentary. I think the director wanted to present a composite character who could fill in some of the stories that privacy and safety wouldn't allow him to tell with the material he had. Unfortunately, this is not clearly explained in the film. I believe the attempt was a well-intended. He called the film a hybrid of a documentary and scripted film during the Q & A session, but it is highly problematic none-the-less. This action undermines the strength of the film which is its authenticity and honesty. It makes the audience question whether the portrait itself is a fair one or an attempt to manipulate the audience. While I agree with his goals, this is not a wise decision. Still, for those who are open-minded and want to learn about the real-life experiences of refugees, the film is recommended.

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