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‘Unsettled: Seeking Refuge in America’ Review: Embracing a New Home


“Unsettled: Seeking Refuge in America” begins as a typical issue documentary, with the goal of raising awareness of refugees who have been persecuted for being L.G.B.T.Q. It follows four people who have come to the United States: Subhi from Syria, Junior from the Democratic Republic of Congo and the couple Mari and Cheyenne from Angola. They have stories of vicious discrimination and estrangement from family members. When they arrive in the San Francisco area, volunteers help them acclimate, but finding work and housing make settling difficult.

The movie, directed by Tom Shepard, becomes more absorbing as the subjects’ paths diverge. Subhi speaks at the United Nations and, after not being able to talk about his sexual orientation in Syria, becomes an activist. Mari and Cheyenne, who only have temporary visas, must seek asylum, an arduous process for which the odds are against them. Junior, who is shown selling ballgame concessions and cleaning dishes, relocates so often the feeling of migration hasn’t ended.

The film begins before the election of Donald Trump, and the policies of the new administration are kept mainly in the background. But that context is never far away, as when Subhi pays a holiday visit to a boyfriend’s family (said to be politically conservative), and the father awkwardly asks Subhi if he was a refugee. More than the informational nuggets the movie flashes onscreen, these scenes of personal interaction help make “Unsettled” distinctive.

Unsettled: Seeking Refuge in America

Not rated. In English, Portuguese, Spanish and Arabic, with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 24 minutes. Watch on WorldChannel.org.



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