Facets Teaching Resources

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.


Film still from Immersion program

Immersion M

Shorts Program
Grades 4–6

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

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

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.

Making It   (English)
New   (Swahili, English, Dutch)
Ravi & Jane   (English, Tamil)
Immersion   (English, Spanish)
The Lion and the Brave Mouse   (Arabic)

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Film still from Making It program

Making It M

Shorts Program
Grades 5–7

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

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

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.

Making It   (English)
What's Fufu   (English)
Munya in Me   (Dutch)
Ben Hora   (nonverbal)
Jamila—If Only I Could Fly   (Danish)
Riceballs   (English)
SOS Friendship   (Italian)

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Film still from One-way Ticket program

One-way Ticket HS M V

Shorts Program
Grades: 6–8

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

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

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.

Ben Hora   (nonverbal)
When I Hear Birds Sing   (French)
One Way Ticket to Bossum   (Dutch)
Farida   (Norwegian)
Year Without My Parents   (Arabic, English, Dutch)

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Film still from Paper State program

Paper State HS M V

Shorts Program
Grades: 9+

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

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

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.

Scarves, Crosses & Incense   (Finnish)
Whats Fufu   (English)
Pondering   (French)
Sharaf   (Spanish, Swedish)
Youssef is Complicated   (English)
Paper State: Undocumented, Unafraid, Undeterred   (English)

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All films are official selections from the Chicago International Children's Film Festival, and all programs include an introduction and post-screening discussion led by one of our trained media educators. Curriculum aligned with the Common Core is also provided to teachers prior to the day of screening.

Flexible scheduling throughout the day—come to us or let us come to you! To book your group please contact groups@facets.org or 773.281.9075 ext. 3040.