Immigration Stories

Whether a child is a recent immigrant or has immigrant friends, the films in our Immigration Stories programs will inspire students to understand and empathize with the challenges of immigration. All programs include theatrical screening and media education

All programs include theatrical screening and media education.

How to book?
Book a field trip or in-school session today.
Phone: 773.281.9075 ext. 3040

How much does it cost?
Field trips: Tickets are $6 per kid for groups of 25 or more and $7 for groups under 25. Chaperones attend free of charge based on an approximate 10:1 ratio of students to chaperones—there is a $10 fee for each additional chaperone. Refreshment packages are available.

In-School sessions: Session cost is determined by class size. We charge $8 per kid for groups of 50 or more, but there is a minimum fee of $400 for groups of 50 or less. There is an additional $100 fee for each additional 20 miles from Chicago.

Film still from Hello Salaam

New Horizons, No Limits

Grades 4–6

Come along on a journey with no horizons and no limits to see what is in store for the characters.

In the first film, after Tarek emigrates from Syria, he struggles to find birthday gifts for his mother. In another short, a child recounts the differences growing up in East versus West Germany during the Cold War. In the last film, while on holiday two brothers help out at a Greek refugee camp, and make new friends along the way.

Themes: Refugee life, immigration adaptation/comparison of experiences growing up in different countries/Dare to Dream/Identity/Self-expression/Persistence.

Films: The Gift, The Butterfly, Giant Sweet & Chocolate Marshmallows, Bango Vassil, Spotlight on Merna, and Hello Salaam.

83 mins with media education. Screened in English, Arabic, Spanish, German, Bulgarian, Dutch, Afghan with English subtitles.


Film still from Immersion program



Grades 4–6

Equipped with resilience and resolve, the characters in these films are able to rise above the challenges of immersing into a new culture.

In one documentary, Tanans has just arrived from Uganda and there are a lot of new things to learn all at once! Then, in an American middle school, math whiz Moises would definitely ace his math test, if only he had access to the test in Spanish. The last film is a documentary about a recent Syrian refugee named Nora who finds strength and solace in her determination to make a new start and work towards her grown-up goal to be an arts educator.

Themes: Identity, heritage, transitional circumstances, emotional adjustments, English as a Second Language (ESL), bullying, empathy, transience, Syrian wartime flight and relocation.

Films: Making It, New, Ravi & Jane, Immersion, and The Lion and the Brave Mouse.

90 mins with media education. Screened in English, Swahili, Dutch, Tamil, Spanish and Arabic with English subtitles.


Film still from Making It program

Making It


Grades 5–7

Finding your place can be hard, especially if you seem to be different from everyone else, but the characters in these films are able to express their identities and forge new paths while respecting their heritage.

In one film, Jamila has lived her whole life in a Danish refugee camp, when suddenly her best friend is deported. How does she deal with this major disruption? In another film, Munya is constantly picked on by the neighborhood bullies for being different, and by her mom for not following their cultural customs. How can she be both true to her heritage and to herself? In the 2016 Festival award-winner, Riceballs, a bicultural boy wants to stay in Australia and not relocate to his father's country. Can he convince dad that home is where you make it? The last film is a documentary about 12-year-old Letizia, whose family runs a refugee center in Sicily. Letizia makes new friends as she helps recent African immigrants make a fresh start, literally right off the boat.

Themes: Identity, respecting heritage, bullying, second-generation immigration issues, fitting in, empathy, transience of friendships in some circumstances, perceptions vs. reality of outward appearances.

Films: Making It, What's Fufu, Munya in Me, Ben Hora, Jamila—If Only I Could Fly, Riceballs, and SOS Friendship.

71 mins with media education. Screened in English, Dutch, Danish, and Italian with English subtitles.


Film still from One-way Ticket program

One-way Ticket


Grades 6–8

When the characters in these films are forced to leave their homes behind, they have to confront new challenges, find ways to preserve their heritage, and explore their dreams in an unfamiliar place.

In one animated documentary, refugee children tell stories about their escape from the Ivory Coast and talk about their hopes and dreams for the future. In another documentary, Farida is deported to Kabul, Afghanistan, where her education and freedoms are now drastically different. In the last, award-winning film, 12 year-old Tareq flees from Syria to live with his uncle in the Netherlands. Tareq's resiliency and engaging personality win out when he has to tell his story to his classmates.

Themes: deportation, circumstances of fleeing an oppressive country, detainee circumstances, forced isolation from family, adoption, retaining heritage while assimilating to new ways.

Films: Ben Hora, When I Hear the Birds Sing, One Way Ticket to Bossum, Farida, and Year Without My Parents.

71 mins with media education. Screened in English, French, Dutch, Norwegian, Arabic, and Dutch with English subtitles.


Film still from Scent of Geranium

Where to Go from Here

Grades 6–8

Families and friends are displaced due to many different reasons. The characters in these films, if they are refugees or volunteers, learn a lot from different cultures.

Safia, a Libyan refugee, has a bittersweet summer camp experience, when she learns how to treasure new friendships, no matter how long-distanced or short-lived they may be. In a short doc, we follow an Iraqi refugee, the plucky and talented Merna, who was a finalist on Voice Kids. Can she continue her dream? In another doc, two brothers volunteer at a Greek refugee camp and make new friends along the way. In the last film, Syrian-born Ahmad is grateful for his new life in the Netherlands and wants to give back.

Themes: Refugee Life/New Immigrant Perspective/Manage expectations/Paying it forward/Empathy/Standing out, fitting in/Identity/New friends.

Films: Scent of Geranium, Safia's Summer, Spotlight on Merna, Hello Salaam, and Ahmad's Hair.

94 mins with media education. Screened in English, Dutch, Arabic, Afghan with English subtitles.


Film still from The Wait

The Wait


Grades 8+

Fourteen-year-old Afghan refugee Rokhsar has a lot of weight on her shoulders. Not only does she have school and friends to deal with, but her family's citizenship depends on her.

Rokhsar Sediqi lives in Denmark with family. She is popular, does well in school, and is a real leader for her soccer team. There is just one thing wrong: it's been five years and Rokhsar and her family still haven't recieved asylum status. Rokhsar is able to apply on behalf of her family, as a minor, since she has already integrated well and knows the language and customs. As they await the final decision, will the burden and the stress change Rokhsar forever?

Themes: identity, family, immigration, community, support systems; overcoming obstacles, perseverance, surviving trauma as individual/family, understanding differences, representing adult issues while a minor, United Nations Rights of the Child.

78 mins with media education. Screened in Danish and Dari with English subtitles.


Film still from Paper State program

Paper State


Grades 9+

The characters in these films struggle with important decisions about culture and place.

They must figure out how their personal goals are connected to the country they were born in versus the country they have immigrated to. They have to think about the challenges of facing discrimination and the rewards of have greater opportunities. There are a lot of scary doubts and empowering possibilities when you have to leave something permanently behind. Whether Mexican, African, Muslim, or Iraqi, each character's story is unique yet universal at the same time.

Themes: Identity, embracing heritage, moving forward to attain personal goals and recognize potential opportunities, after-effects of wartime relocation and stress, setting aside differences.

Films: Scarves, Crosses & Incense, What's Fufu, Pondering, Sharaf, Youssef is Complicated, and Paper State: Undocumented, Unafraid, Undeterred.

74 mins with media education. Screened in English, Finnish, French, Spanish, and Swedish with English subtitles.


  • John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • Artworks: National Endowment for the Arts
  • Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences
  • Comer Family Foundation
  • Bloomberg Philanthropies
  • Alphawood Foundation
  • Polk Bros. Foundation