Film Festival Highlights the Diverse Stories of Immigrants

“Parallel Parking,” by Morrisville filmmaker Aby Rao, tells the story of two immigrants who find common bonds through their differences and a shared love of food.

The Home is Distant Shores Film Festival highlights immigrant and refugee stories, voices and perspectives in the U.S. and the Triangle.

The festival, which ends Wednesday, Oct. 16, features screenings of short films and a feature film by Morrisville filmmaker Aby Rao at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh.

“As an Indian-American who immigrated fifteen years ago, I am hurt and terrified at the unpredictable future for immigrants,” Rao said in his director’s statement.

Aby Rao

“Parallel Parking” is the director’s first feature-length film, and it was funded partially by a 2016 Filmed in NC grant. The movie tells the story of Dechen, an undocumented Tibetan worker, and Oscar, a reckless Dominican American truck driver plagued by addiction. The two immigrants find common bonds through their differences and a shared love of food.

According to the filmmaker, “Parallel Parking,” is about more than entertainment and telling a good story.

“It is an attempt to humanize such hardworking and virtuous immigrants and to begin to shift some of the negative perceptions that abound in this country. I hope to convey the sentiment that immigrants enhance the lives of all of us who live here, and though their journeys are often steeped in hardship, the stories also embody hope and the opportunity for second chances,” he said.

The Oct. 9 program, titled “New Shores,” includes five short films of life in a new country followed by a panel discussion with organizations who serve refugees and immigrants. The panel will be moderated by Anita Rao, of WUNC-FM.

The festival concludes Oct. 16 with the showing of “Parallel Parking.” After the movie, a reception will be held with series participants and filmmakers.

The film festival is presented by International Focus and the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants – NC Field Office. International Focus is a local nonprofit that builds global understanding and respect through education, cultural exchange, arts and the celebration of achievements. Established in 2007, the committee for refugees helps meet the immediate basic needs of new arrivals and assists them as they build new lives in North Carolina.

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