Yehuda Sharim is a scholar, filmmaker, and postdoctoral fellow in the Program of Jewish studies and a Kinder Scholar at Rice University. His most recent films, We Are In It (2016) and Lessons in Seeing (2017) provide a comparative insight into the experiences of immigration and displacement, presenting the greatest challenges to integration for various migrant groups as we refashion constructions of home, nation, and belonging. Sharim is the co-founder of Houston in Motion: Empowering Houston Refugee Communities, a multi-media project that provides a window into the lives of immigrant and refugee communities in Houston.
Dr. Sharim holds a Ph.D. in culture and performance from the department of world arts and cultures at University of California, Los Angeles. Sharim received his bachelor’s degree in English literature from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a master’s degree in performance from Goldsmiths College – University of London, and another master’s degree in performance studies from New York University. He is currently teaching at Rice University. His classes explore topics such as Activism and Critical Study of Hope in Times of Crisis. His other artistic and scholarly work explore connections between art, poetry, comparative migration studies, cultural studies, and race and ethnic studies.
Abbigail Vandersnick is a multi-media artist working within frames of film, photography, sound art, installations, and writing. She graduated in 2015 from the University of Illinois at Chicago with Bachelors in Fine Arts, and moved to Houston, Texas, later in the same year. She has worked as a director, screenwriter, cinematographer, and editor on various short films.
Previously, she worked as a film and video lab technician at the Gene Siskel Film Center at the Art Institute of Chicago and in the exhibitions department at the Houston Center for Photography.
Vandersnick’s passion comes from a desire to work within and for communities of workers and artists, neighbors and families, immigrants and those who seek to be recognized beyond labels. Her work with Houston in Motion allows her to expand these possibilities and create lasting impact through collaborations and the most beautiful moments of empowerment within the city’s different communities.
Vandersnick draws heavily on her experiences of moving continually from Illinois to Texas as a child to re-define identity as something that can be transient and refractory. She explores projections of culture, individual history, and one's physical environment through her artistic passions, skills, and technical knowledge in moving image, photography, design, and sound.
Yan Digilov is Chief Strategist of The Firestarter Group, a non-profit located in Houston that focuses on social investment. He has a degree in economics and mathematics from Rice University. Yan is also a leader in the Houston in Motion collaboration, a multi-media project that provides a window into the lives and experiences of refugee communities in Houston. Coming to the US as a refugee from the former Soviet Union, he has become a powerful advocate for reform in the process of resettlement. Yan has a deep interest in decentralized blockchain technologies, especially as they pertain to applications for better valuing the contributions of migrant communities. Lessons in Seeing is his second production work.
We are in it features visceral scenes from the everyday lives of Karla, Serges, Hussein, Nancy and Tutu. For all of them, Houston is their common space of struggle, pleasure, and shelter. For them, Houston is a second, third or even fourth city of residence, both home and metropolis of hostility. Here, they are safe, restless, part of a diaspora that struggles to find meaning beyond labels of foreigner, immigrant, undocumented, alien, and refugee.
Filmed in Houston, Texas
Running Time: 107min
Digital Frame rate 23.976
Screening format: DCP
Language: English, Arabic, Burmese, Swahili
Subtitles: English and Spanish
"Film Spotlights Houston Refugees' Stories" – Jewish Herald Voice
"In Houston, a filmmaker tries to understand the city’s mélange of refugees" – The Urban Edge
"Migrant Ironies: Migrants Hope for Life Without Limitations in Houston" – The Feminist Wire