“This is Home” Director Alexandra Shiva on embracing humor and culture clash to tell a different type of refugee story


In this episode of On Assignment we talk with Alexandra Shiva about her 2019 duPont-Columbia and Sundance award-winning documentary “This Is Home.” The poignant, heartwarming film follows four Syrian refugee families through both painful and comic culture clash moments as they transition to life in the U.S.

Shiva discusses the core challenges in telling this story, from bridging major language and cultural barriers; to trying to shoot and edit at the same time; to the fine line needed to tell the story of a politically divisive topic in a way that’s accessible across party lines.

“It was interesting to talk to these very right-leaning people and have them say ‘I didn't think this was political, it's a human story,’” says Shiva. “People said, ‘I've never met a refugee. I didn't realize what they go through.’”

The secret sauce to the film’s success? She says it’s using humor, wherever possible, because “it's such a connecting force and it is a sign of resilience and survival,” says Shiva.

Tune into this week’s episode to hear more. And watch “This Is Home” on Amazon Prime.

And — duPont 2020 is now open for entry! Deadline is July 1. For more info - visit www.duPont.org

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