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WNY Refugee Film Festival

4 reasons why the selections are must-sees

A still from The Other Side of Hope, a fictional narrative from Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki

Stills courtesy of Journey’s End


June 7–8

Refugee Film Festival

TriMain Center, 2495 Main Street



I asked Spillman what made this group of three — Soufra, Warehoused, and The Other Side of Hope — so compelling, and why they need to be on local film fans’ radars.


• There is no filmmaker quite like Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki: “As a cinephile, I’m drawn to any film by Kaurismaki, whose use of dry wit, off-beat situations, and sparse dialogue oddly reveals a deep empathy for the humanity of his subjects. We fittingly feature his final film, The Other Side of Hope, as our final film of the festival, which stars the Syrian-Finnish actor Sherwan Haji.”


• The films are about more than the refugee experience: “We strongly feel all our films have very important and compelling things to say not just about refugees, but also about us and how we welcome — or don’t welcome – people fleeing war and persecution, and who are struggling to make a new home and provide a better life for their families far from where they came from.”


• The range of locations in these stories is astounding: “The films feature the extraordinary stories and voices of refugees in places as disparate as Montana, Lebanon, Nepal, Texas, and Kenya.”


• There is diversity among the subjects of the films and the filmmakers involved: “Refugees in Buffalo and in the U.S. come from all over the world, each with their own unique history, experiences, and background. We wanted to reflect and honor that diversity as much as possible in the films we screened.”


All films are held at Tri-Main Center, 2495 Main St. Visit wnyrff.org for more info and to purchase tickets.


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