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Utica: The Last Refuge

Loch Phillipps
United States, 2021, 118 min.

In English with English subtitles.
This film is family friendly.

Imagine you are a refugee from Sudan. After 6 years in an Ethiopian camp, you arrive in cold upstate NY. You know no one. Utica: The Last Refuge follows the Azein family from their arrival in Utica, NY in 2017, just as an administration hostile to immigration is sworn in. Over 2.5 years they will transition from isolation to being part of a thriving community. Utica, a struggling rustbelt city, is rebounding with the help of a considerable refugee population. But as the agency charged with overseeing refugee resettlement fights for its own survival, they all now face new challenges.

Director's Statement

Adam Bedient (DP) and I had been producing short films on refugee issues and wanted to do something more substantial for this vulnerable population. What struck us is that the system is backed up. Of the over 25 million refugees worldwide, fewer than 1% are being resettled. With a little research, we were shocked to find that Utica, near where we both attended college, serves a great example of successful refugee resettlement in the United States. We hope you will find the story of Utica's reinvention of itself as a haven for refugees as inspiring as we have.

Category: Documentary.

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