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New Homeland



Documentary (USA) 2018

Director: Barbara Kopple

PA Premiere


SYNOPSIS: Every summer since 1914, Camp Pathfinder, a summer camp located on a small island in the wilderness of Canada’s Algonquin Park, invites a community of boys and young men from all across Canada and the United States to spend a few weeks in the backcountry learning how to camp, hike, canoe and fish. Two years ago Camp Director Mike Sladden, enraged by the tragic images from the growing global refugee crisis but inspired by Canada’s growing intake of asylum seekers, had an idea. What if he could find a way to bring a group of displaced boys from war-torn Syria and Iraq, who recently settled in Canada, to spend the summer at Pathfinder? If the camp experience could have such a profound effect on generations of boys already, imagine what it would be like for these refugee boys. ​Directed by two-time Academy Award winner Barbara Kopple, in collaboration with NowThis, NEW HOMELAND offers a unique and intimate perspective into the experience of building a new home after fleeing the traumas of war.


DIRECTOR BIO: Barbara Kopple is a two-time Academy Award winning filmmaker. A director and producer of narrative films and documentaries, her most recent project is the documentary New Homeland.Barbara produced and directed Harlan County USA and American Dream, both winners of the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Her other films include A Murder In Mansfield, This Is Everything: Gigi Gorgeous, Miss Sharon Jones!, Running From Crazy, The House of Steinbrenner, Woodstock: Now and Then, Shut Up and Sing, Havoc, A Conversation with Gregory Peck, My Generation, Wild Man Blues, Fallen Champ: The Untold Story of Mike Tyson, and many more.

DIRECTOR STATEMENT: New Homeland is a project that has given me a new outlook on the world we share. I cherish the opportunity to tell the stories of people facing incredible change and challenge. I can imagine few greater challenges than being forced from your home, settling in a new and foreign land, and adapting to a new life, society and reality. As an American, the rhetoric facing refugees, especially those from South America and the Middle East, has left me uncomfortable and at times ashamed. A couple years ago our company mandated that we wanted to create a film that would look to the refugees being frozen out of the United States as fellow citizens of the world, to examine our shared purpose in raising our families in peace and security. It was with this in mind that we came to hear the story of Camp Pathfinder. The team was encouraged to learn about the Canadian Government’s system of refugee sponsorship. To know that average citizens pulled together to resettle families suffering from the traumas of war was exactly the sort of news we needed personally, and the kind of story we wanted to tell. Then, to hear how all around Canada different institutions were trying to help the children reclaim their childhoods and acclimate to their new country, well, that checked all the boxes of what we hoped to explore. There have been so many incredible and crucial films about the war in Syria and the humanitarian crisis it has created but we set out to answer the question of “what next?” and “where does hope live in so much despair?” Camp Pathfinder has existed for over 100 years in Algonquin Provincial Park. Short on electricity and creature comforts, it is overflowing with the warmth of a community who wanted to help welcome recently settled boys from Iraq and Syria with the best intentions possible. So, we set out to hear about the war and meet the families and their sponsors, then we packed up with the boys and set off to camp in the Canadian wildness among the loons and wolves, to see how this experience might help these boys take another step forward in being comfortable in their new homeland. We did not shy away from the difficulties, but I did not want to focus primarily on the war. We set out to highlight the visual beauty of the Canadian wilderness, as well as the physical and mental strength that young people muster in a joint sense of purpose to conquer their fears and limits. We found the shared sense of struggle among young people of all backgrounds and the triumph of taking on the unknown in its’ most universal glory. We were fortunate to go on an amazing trip and see something beautiful, I believe that New Homeland will let you share in something unexpected and much needed in this historic moment. These children lost homes but not their hope and I know we can all learn something incredible from them.

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