Unsettled: Seeking Refuge in America, a documentary released in April and currently in film festivals around the world, tells the story of four LGBTQ immigrants who move to San Francisco to avoid persecution related to their sexual orientation. The four had endured death threats and murder attempts in their home countries, in some cases by their own families. As they pursue asylum they face legal hurdles, anti-immigrant sentiments, and the incredibly high cost of living in their adopted city. One of them, Junior Mayema, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, has been supported by the Guardian Group of First UU Society of San Francisco, which received grants from the Fund for UU Social Responsibility; until going on hiatus last year the Guardian Group provided support to sexual minority refugees, asylum seekers, and asylees resettling in San Francisco and nearby cities.
Another documentary, American Heretics: The Politics of the Gospel, highlights the challenges faced by progressive faith leaders as they seek to shift concepts of spirituality and Christianity in Oklahoma, one of the most politically conservative and traditionally Christian states. Released in July, American Heretics has been called “eye-opening” by the New York Times. Among other progressive voices, the documentary focuses on two ministers from All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa: the Rev. Marlin Lavanhar, senior minister, and the Rev. Carlton Pearson, affiliate minister. Pearson, a former Pentecostal bishop, joined the ministry of All Souls after being deemed a heretic for embracing the idea of universal salvation, a story told in the feature film Come Sunday.
Beacon, a three-minute animated film created by Claire Pullen, a graduate of Edinboro University’s animation program, presents stories of immigrants, including a family encountering a wall on the U.S. border and children in ICE detention, as a voiceover reads Emma Lazarus’s “The New Colossus,” the poem engraved on the Statue of Liberty. Beacon is an award winner at this year’s Queen City Film Festival in Cumberland, Maryland, in the Social Justice Shorts category. A member of Sunnyhill, the UU Church of the South Hills in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Pullen previously illustrated Together in Harmony: A Children’s Songbook.