Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Barbara Kopple Says Doc Comes at a Time When U.S. Is 'Turning Its Back' on Refugees

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Barbara Kopple Says Doc Comes at a Time When U.S. Is 'Turning Its Back' on Refugees

Article excerpt

'New Homeland' shows refugee boys at Algonquin camp

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TORONTO - Oscar-winning director Barbara Kopple's latest documentary, "New Homeland," captures quintessentially Canadian childhood pleasures as teen boys swim in a lake, play dodgeball and portage with canoes at Camp Pathfinder in Algonquin Park.

But behind some of those smiling faces are harrowing stories.

Making its Canadian debut Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema in Toronto, "New Homeland" -- from Cabin Creek Films in partnership with NowThis -- begins with footage of decimated buildings and bombings in war-torn regions of Syria and Iraq from which some of the boys and their families fled.

It then follows the families' journeys as refugees in Canada in 2017, with sponsors who help them build new lives over a year-long period and send the children to the summer camp of boys and young men that has opened its arms to asylum seekers.

"This film comes at a time when the United States has been turning its back on its historic role as a welcomer of refugees in the world, and a time when the Canadians have historically really stepped in to fill those shoes," Kopple, who grew up in Scarsdale, N.Y., and lives south of the border, said in a recent phone interview.

"I just think that maybe the Canadians can serve to remind the Americans of what they've always stood for."

The director, who won an Oscar for her 1976 doc "Harlan County, U.S.A." and another for 1991's "American Dream," learned about Camp Pathfinder through producer Eric Forman. He grew up in Buffalo, N.Y., spent summers at the camp and heard it had started to accept Syrian and Iraqi refugee children as part of a sponsorship program about two years ago.

Featured in the film are the Zin family from Amuda, Syria; the Majeed family from Baghdad, Iraq; and the Darewish family from Aleppo, Syria. All three live in Toronto and are supported in the film by individuals through private sponsorship groups. …

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