An influx of LGBTQ+ refugees and asylum seekers are caught between an unsettling past and an uncertain future as they seek safer lives in the United States.

asylum seekers
Doc World
Premiere Date
June 28, 2020
60 minutes
Funding Initiative
Open Call
Series and Special Projects
filmmaker Tom Shepard

Tom Shepard

For 20 years, filmmaker Tom Shepard has produced, directed, edited, and distributed documentary films. Four of his feature projects – Scout's Honor, Knocking, Whiz Kids and The Grove– have aired nationally on PBS (including POV, Independent Lens and PBS Plus). Coverage of his work has been featured prominently in the U.S. and foreign press, including Show more reviews of three of his films in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and Boston Globe among others. Shepard’s films have played in more than 150 film festivals worldwide – including Full Frame, SilverDocs and the Sundance Film Festival (where he won two top awards for Scout's Honor in 2001.) Shepard is the former Chairman of New Day Films and regularly teaches documentary film in California and Colorado. In 2013, he founded the Youth Documentary Academy (www.youthdocumentary.org) which trains high school students from underserved communities how to produce and direct documentary films. He graduated from Stanford University where he studied human biology and film. Show less

Other ITVS Films
The Grove
Scout's Honor
filmmaker Jennifer Gilomen

Jennifer Gilomen

Jen Gilomen is an award-winning independent documentary producer and cinematographer who has created nationally and internationally distributed films and interactive projects, including Deep Down and the associated Virtual Mine (a pioneering educational virtual reality game), which were funded by ITVS and MacArthur Foundation and nominated for Show more an Emmy in 2011.Deep Down aired on Independent Lens, and Jen’s documentary Life on the Line was also broadcast nationally on PBS. Jen was a Supervising Producer at the ITVS, where she managed a portfolio of feature documentaries for public television as well as web series and interactive projects. Prior to joining ITVS, Jen was Director of Independent Media at the Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC), where she oversaw a $1.5 million annual budget of innovative public media programming that engaged nonprofit organizations, foundations, independent producers and artists. In her career, Jen has acted as a creative, strategic, and technical advisor to over 150 nonprofit organizations, companies, and independent storytellers. Show less

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The Film

Every refugee or asylum seeker has a story to tell. Unsettled brings to life the names, faces, and tumultuous backstories of LGBTQ individuals forced to flee intense persecution in their home countries. Landing in San Francisco and girded with new hope, their challenges begin to multiply: finding new homes, new jobs, and new identities in the country’s most cost-prohibitive region forces these new immigrants to dig deep just in order to survive.

Having escaped Islamic terrorist death threats in Syria, beatings by a homophobic father, and a nation devastated by war, Subhi finds his voice as a leader for refugee rights in the U.S. Lesbian couple Cheyenne and Mari flee brutal harassment in their native Angola to face uncertain asylum through the American immigration courts while pursuing their dreams of becoming musicians. Junior, a gender non-conforming gay man from the Congo, struggles to create a livelihood and secure basic housing while exploring a more fluid gender identity. Their multilayered, untold, international stories are uniquely personal and uncover the high cost of escaping persecution.