Please enjoy this short piece by Jason Outenreath, followed by an interview with the director! Jason kindly shared with us about his upcoming documentary They Live Here, Now and what inspired him to film and at Casa:
1. How did you hear about Casa Marianella?
I first heard about Casa Marianella from a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, where I am a current graduate film student. From there I did my own research and started visiting Casa Marianella on a regular basis.
2. How long have you been making films and what inspired you to make a film about Casa?
I’ve been making films for the past ten years. The feature length documentary I’m currently in post-production on about Casa Marianella evolved from an ongoing photography project that I began in the fall of 2014. In part I was inspired by the residents coming to stay at Casa. But I was also really impressed with the effort and sacrifices I witnessed on the part of staff, volunteers, and especially, Jennifer Long, to help immigrants.
3. What was one of your most memorable experiences shooting this documentary?
There were many memorable experiences during the filming. A lot of the filming involved bearing witness to harrowing testimony by residents, and the vividness of their collective stories is something I will never forget. Many of these will be shared in the film.
4. How do you best describe the finished version of this film and why should people watch it?
The film isn’t quite finished yet, it is still in the editing phase. However, I would describe the vision for the finished film as a portrait of a refugee house in the United States. There has been a lot of media produced in the last two years delving into the often dangerous journeys that immigrants undertake to arrive at their desired destinations. I hope that They Live Here, Now provides a different perspective on the immigration crisis currently unfolding throughout the world. Given the divisive rhetoric against immigrants that has been gaining momentum in the last year, it is essential for people to be exposed to films and media that humanize people different from themselves. I hope this film engenders greater compassion and cultural understanding while combating bigotry. To that end, people should watch it to learn about people from all over the world, and to learn about the inner workings of a refugee house.
5. Have you learned any valuable lessons throughout the filming period?
It is impossible to spend time at Casa Marianella without learning a tremendous amount. As a filmmaker, the importance of listening cannot be overstated. Sometimes you want to say something, or ask a followup question, and you just need to be quiet and listen. There is a lot being said even in silence. As a person, Casa gave me a completely newfound respect for immigrants and their dire situations– all of which are unique. They are courageous individuals who sacrifice everything to come to a new place. I think a lot of people don’t respect how difficult it is to leave your home forever. It goes so far beyond financial security. One comment that was repeated by many residents I spoke with, was that the one aspect of the US that Americans most take for granted is the relative safety with which one lives. That you can walk out of your front door in the morning in most cases without fear of being senselessly murdered. That’s perspective.
6. When and where can people view the finished documentary?
The release date is TBA, as is the place. However, I hope to be able to set up a screening at Casa Marianella upon its completion.
Stay tuned for Jason’s incredible upcoming documentary! You can watch the trailer here: https://vimeo.com/167387279
Interested in getting involved at Casa Marianella? Visit our Rally page for more information: https://rally.org/casamarianella