Happy 2015! New Team Member + Screenings

Happy 2015 everyone!

We are pretty excited about the year ahead –lots of things in store for The One Who Builds. We are happy to announce that this past fall we brought a new team member on board. We’d like you to meet our Outreach Coordinator, Todd Savage.

PBW_9759Todd Savage is an experienced editor, writer, and researcher with a deep curiosity, an eye for both detail and the big picture, and a radar for what’s interesting and new. After 12 years in Amsterdam, he recently relocated to Austin, Texas. He is an experienced journalist working to make the jump into documentary filmmaking.

His passion for documentary film was kindled with an experience attending Barefoot Workshops, a doc “boot camp” in Clarksdale, Miss. Over 10 days, while living in old sharecropper shacks, he and the other aspiring filmmakers researched, shot, edited, and screened a short film. While there, he made film called “A Joyous Racket” about the relationship between a young blues musician and his teacher.

Since that time, he also has volunteered and attended Sheffield, SXSW and IDFA, where he was a moderator interviewing directors after their film premieres.

Soon after arriving in Austin, he produced a short film (with Ben Steinbauer of “Winnebago Man”) called “The Legend of Cheer Up Charlies” that was chosen as one of 12 films in the city’s “Faces of Austin” showcase. He is also working as a producer with filmmaker Dale Cannedy-Azim on a video series called “My First Time” for the website lstylegstyle.com.

Since joining the team, Todd has been doing incredible work researching educational distribution and screening opportunities for The One Who Builds. As we embark on this educational screening tour, we’re so lucky to have Todd on board with us, keeping the film in front of new audiences nationwide and sharing Dr. Omer and his team’s story with more and more people.

Which brings us to SCREENING NEWS…

eatdrinkWe have been invited to screen the film in Fredericksburg, Texas, just outside of Austin in the beautiful Texas Hill Country for the Hill Country Film Festival‘s annual Eat. Drink. Be Inspired. Fundraiser. In their words it is “much more than dinner and a movie, the event pairs a unique culinary experience with a moving film that will enlighten with inspiration.” We’re excited about sharing the film with a rural audience, something we don’t always get to do. The Hill Country Film Society provides year-round independent film programming in the Texas Hill Country and we’re happy to support their endeavors with this event.

The event is scheduled for January 30th at 6:30 at Hoffman Haus in Fredericksburg. Tickets can be purchased here.


Months ago we shared with you that we will be screening the film at Duke University.  We are absolutely humbled and thrilled to be included in this year’s Rights! Camera! Action! Film Series presented by the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute, the Human Rights Archive, the Archive of Documentary Arts and Screen/Society and cosponsored by The John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture. Our film is included amongst many other films that we admire deeply such as Waste Land, Banished, The Devil Came on Horseback and At The Death House Door. If you’re in the Durham area, this ongoing screening series is not to be missed! Our screening of The One Who Builds will be followed by a very special panel discussion with panelists from various NC refugee resettlement organizations.

The One Who Builds screening is now just weeks away, set for February 5, 2015 at 7pm at Smith Warehouse, FHI Garage, Bay 4, 114 S Buchanan Blvd, Durham, NC. For more information, please visit the event page on their website.

2015 is off to a great start and we hope to share more news with you soon!




Austin, Toronto, & Duke University screenings planned!

Though Peter, Nick and myself have all parted ways geographically, we are still very much united on bringing The One Who Builds to audiences who might find it educational and inspiring. Our primary goal for 2014 has been to work on getting the film out there as an educational tool through both university and community screenings.

Last year we were approached by John Gartrell, Director of  the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture at Duke University about possibly arranging a screening there. This ultimately led to being asked to be a part of the RIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION film series in February of 2015. We are very excited about being a part of this and feel great about Duke being one of our first stops on the university screening tour.

I’m also excited about our first Austin screening since I’ve moved back to Texas. Kat Albert, independent filmmaker and screenwriter of Studio e2 here in Austin has been curating some community screenings at East Austin Eats, a food truck park on east 7th street. The One Who Builds has been programmed as a part of DOCUMENTARY NIGHT and will screen along with Bat City USA, a documentary about some of Austin’s most famous residents, the largest urban bat colony that resides under the Congress Avenue bridge. It should be a warm, fun night under the stars surrounded by food trucks —the perfect Austin evening. We’ve also been in contact with CARITAS, a local refugee resettlement agency in hopes that they might participate.

And lastly, we have snuck into one last (?) film festival. Last winter we came across the COMMFFEST Global Community Film Festival in Toronto which is a festival that is dedicated to inclusion and community enhancement. The One Who Builds was accepted and will be screening in the Interfaith Films category. So this fest is right up our alley and we’re happy to be included! Very exciting to be making our Canadian premiere.

Hopefully we will have more educational screenings to announce in the coming months! Also, please let us know if you are interested in setting something up.


2013 in Review

The One Who Builds has had an incredible year. We were so honored that the film screened as part of two different Martin Luther King Day celebrations and the Dialogue on Progressive Enlightenment Conference at NCA&T University. As 2013 began, the emails started rolling in and we were absolutely thrilled to be accepted into several festivals. Little did we know, our very first festival screening at the end of March would be all the way in Lagos, Nigeria. The iRepresent International Documentary Film Festival found our film by way of the Africa World Documentary Film Festival and we were notified of the screening only the day before! Incredible.

April followed with eight festival screenings around the US. We even took home the Best US/International Documentary Award at the Kansas City Film Fest.  We were able to attend the RiverRun International Film Festival in Winston-Salem, amidst the chaos of our final semester of graduate school and it was wonderful to be included amongst so many wonderful films.

In June screened the film in Raleigh at the World Refugee Day celebration, were invited to the film portion of the National Black Theater Festival and took home Best Documentary Short at the Massachusetts International Film Festival.  We capped the summer off with a screening at the North Carolina Refugee Conference in Wilmington, which was truly special as it was one of the first opportunities many of Dr. Omer’s colleagues around the state had to see the film. Our festival run concluded with my hometown festival, Cucalorus, in Wilmington, NC in November and it was so wonderful to go home again.

We are very pleased with the many opportunities the film was given to be screened this year. Our audiences were so diverse, and the response we received was often enthusiastic. It seems that Omer’s story speaks to many and we hope that it continues to be heard in 2014.


And so it begins…

Today marks the beginning of a very busy couple of weeks for The One Who Builds. Tonight the film screens at 7:05pm at the Alamo Drafthouse Main Street in Kansas City, MO as part of the Kansas City FilmFest. We are so honored to be a part of this festival and we are very sad that we can’t attend. The programming looks incredible and to the once and future Austinite, Co-Director Hillary Pierce, it is a dream come true to screen at one of the famed Alamo Drafthouses, one of the premiere cinemas in the US.

Just two weeks ago we were lucky enough to screen in Freedom Park in Lagos, Nigeria for the iRepresent International Documentary Film Festival. NIGERIA! Fantastic! Incredible to see Omer and his team at NC African Services Coalition’s story reaching all the way back to Africa. Though we’ve already had iRepresent and several successful community and educational screenings (more on that later), tonight’s screening really gets the festival ball rolling. 

The film will screen two more times in Kansas City, twice in Winston-Salem for the RiverRun International Film Festival, once in Boston, MA at the Boston International Film Festival, once in Lawrence, KS for the AfricaWorld Documentary Film Festival and once in St. Petersburg, FL at the Sunscreen Film Festival for a total of 8 times in 10 days! We are so thankful. 

If you live in one of these areas and are interested in seeing the film, please check our SCREENINGS page for more time/location details.

We also screened this past Monday night at North Carolina A&T University with Public Health, English and Diversity classes from there as well as from UNC-Greensboro, and representatives from Guilford College and Greensboro College. 

This screening took place as part of our efforts to develop educational materials to accompany The One Who Builds so that it might be used in classrooms in the future.

It’s going to be a crazy next few weeks and we hope you will be able to join us for a screening!

Kickstarter & Screening News

Hello supporters!

We are so thankful and happy to announce that we have successfully concluded our Kickstarter campaign! Our Kickstarter goal was $6000 and we raised $6,282.  Kickstarter keeps 5% of your total amount raised, so that actually puts us very close to our goal.  

One of the best bonuses of conducting this campaign was the overwhelming love and support we have felt throughout the process.  We have always believed that Omer and his team’s stories need to be shared and it’s been very encouraging to see that so many of you agree and believe in what we’re doing.   

Throughout the summer we have been working with Drew Denton, a composer completing his MFA in Film Composition at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.  We continue to meet with him as he composes pieces that will enhance the film.

We have also brought graphic designer Rachael Dowdy on board to design a poster for The One Who Builds as well as other key artwork we will need for the website and promotional materials.  We’re very excited to be working with Rachael. She’s extremely talented and we can’t wait to share her work with you all.  

We will soon be making final edits on the film and moving on to sound sweetening and color correction.  These processes really polish the film and will be the finishing touches before we move forward with festival submissions and screenings.

Which brings us to some exciting news…

We will be having a very special Work-in-Progress screening of The One Who Builds on October 5, 2012 at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  We are still finalizing the details but please save the date if you live in the area and would like to attend. It will be open to the public and we hope it will be a celebration of the many wonderful people who shared their lives with us through this film and have helped us along the way.  Dr. Omer will be in attendance and we hope to have a Q&A session afterward.  

Thank you for your continued support!

Peter, Nick & Hillary

The next phase of The One Who Builds

Hello everyone!  There have been many exciting updates to share since we last blogged.

We wrapped up principle photography at the end of June and since then we’ve been putting the finishing touches on a final cut of our film.  We have brought on the talented musician/composer, Drew Denton, to compose some original music for the film.  We’ve been able to sit down with him and listen to the themes he’s been working on and it has been amazing to hear how the tone and mood of our film can be expressed in music.  This is the first time we’ve collaborated in this way and it’s a really fun addition to the filmmaking process.  Also, Drew is pursuing his MFA in Music Composition at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.  We’re very excited to build a bridge from Wake Forest across town to the UNCSA.  There’s so much talent in Winston-Salem that could really thrive if we all took a step toward collaboration.

In addition to working with our composer, we are getting ready to launch a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds necessary to finish the film.  It’s an incredible feat to have shot the film on our very limited initial budget but the time has come to raise more funds for the next steps.  We are hoping to take our film to professional sound engineers and colorists to raise the production value for future screenings.  These are elemental pieces of the filmmaking process and we want to make the best film possible.  The Kickstarter campaign will launch sometime the week of July 15th and will run for 30 days.  Don’t miss this opportunity to help us share Omer’s story!

Speaking of screenings, we are working with UNCG on hosting a screening in October in Greensboro.  Details to follow!

In the meantime, be on the lookout for information on our Kickstarter campaign.

As always, thank you for your support!

Peter, Nick and Hillary

Update on production

It has been a while since we updated our production blog.  So much has happened!  We just finished the first rough cut of our film and we are very happy with how it is coming together.

Over the past few months one of the aspects of our film that we felt was lacking was a fuller picture of the refugee situation in Greensboro.  When we began our film we were surprised to find out the number of refugees that have been resettled in the Greensboro area (8,000-11,000) and when we’ve spoken with citizens of Greensboro, they’ve been just as surprised as us to find that out.

In order to paint a fuller picture of the refugee situation, we sat down with many leaders in refugee resettlement in Greensboro.  Raleigh Bailey, Director of the Center for New North Carolinians was kind enough to sit down with us and he talked a lot about how and why refugees started coming into Greensboro.  Sister Gretchen Reintjes lent her unique perspective, being an advocate for refugees in Greensboro for over a decade.  In addition to being authorities on refugee resettlement in Greensboro, both Raleigh and Sister Gretchen have worked with Omer closely and are friends with him, so they were able to speak on Omer’s unique abilities to navigate the world of refugee resettlement.

In other news, in mid-December Omer and his family moved into a new house.  We were there to capture the move-in.  As movers unloaded the new furniture, Omer talked about how this move to a bigger house is the fulfillment of the American Dream.  Omer’s children Moeyad and Mihad are excited to have their own rooms and Omer is excited to have enough room to host family parties, something that wasn’t possible in their previous and much smaller home.

Along with following Omer as he deals with the challenges of refugee resettlement and finding time for his family, our film is also following a newly arrived refugee family.  We were present at the airport for the arrival of the Gurung Family, refugees from Bhutan.  Three weeks after their arrival we visited them in their new apartment along with their case manager, Nsona Kayanda, another character in our film.  In a few weeks we’ll check in with the Gurungs again to see how they’re getting along.  Mr. Gurung has a job now, and we’re hoping to film him as he goes about his job at a local hotel.


A weekend with Omer

December 3 & 4, 2011

A busy weekend of shooting gave us an opportunity to learn more about Omer’s personal journey and also to meet more of the refugees he’s helping to relocate.  On Saturday we followed Omer as he visited some refugees.  The refugees are preparing to relocate to Goldsboro, NC, about 3 hours away, as there are better employment opportunities for them there.  For three of the men relocating it will be even harder as they are going without their families.  The hope is that once these men are established in Goldsboro with jobs, they’ll be able to relocate their families there.  These refugees were supposed to be leaving that weekend, but at the last minute their departure was delayed.  Omer was visiting with them to discuss the change in plans and to personally answer their questions and concerns.  Omer’s insistence on visiting them on the weekend is another example of his going beyond what is asked of him. He understands their anxieties over new challenges, and takes it as his responsibility to explain, to soothe their fears.  As has been said before, for Omer, helping these refugees isn’t just a job – it is a calling.

Two of the men who are moving to Goldsboro are from Darfur, and with Omer’s intervention they were gracious in allowing us into their home to film them.  As the discussion progressed, the men from Darfur began to tell their stories, which were powerful and gut-wrenching.  They experienced horrendous acts of cruelty.  It was very emotional for all of us, Omer included, and we immediately felt the responsibility as filmmakers to tell their stories with honor and dignity.  It is a responsibility we do not take lightly.

On Sunday we met Omer at his house and he told us about his life as a young man in Sudan.  He shared with us photographs of him as a young man as well as his original Sudanese passport.  He talked about his job as a news editor at Sudan TV and how his position as a journalist in Sudan made him a target for the Islamist government that took power in Sudan in 1989.  He told us about the “ghost houses,” locations the Sudanese government used to interrogate and eventually “disappear” those that were in opposition to the government.  It was clear that Omer misses his homeland, despite the horrors he and others suffered there, and he shared with us his dream: to work for an American organization based in Sudan.  That way he can have the best of both worlds: a good job and protection as a US citizen as well as the chance to return to the land of his birth.


Talking with Nsona Kayenda

November 29, 2011

We had the chance to talk with Nsona Kayenda in her office at African Services Coalition.  Nsona is an immigrant from the Democratic Republic of Congo and is a caseworker at ASC, helping newly arrived refugees get the support they need.  She is a mother of four and a small business owner.  As if her responsibilities at ASC aren’t enough, Nsona owns and operates African Sister Restaurant, serving delicious African food in Greensboro.  When we asked her why she works with refugees, her answer was enlightening.  She said that when she came to the United States almost two decades ago, she was lucky to have an older brother already in Greensboro.  Her brother is a professor of French at North Carolina A&T University and he was able to support Nsona and help her adjust to life in America.  She said that she works with refugees because most of them are not as lucky as she was: most of them arrive in America knowing no one.  She is determined to make sure that everyone has a support system like the one she had.

We also found an interesting parallel between Nsona and Omer: both are guided in their work with refugees by their faith.  Nsona is a devout Christian and her husband, also Congolese, is a pastor at a local African church.  Nsona and Omer’s relationship is a perfect example of how faith can bring people together to achieve great things, instead of pulling people apart.

We hope to capture Nsona working at her restaurant, partly because she sees it as one of her gifts to the community: the ability to feed people.  That is a facet of what she sees as her main strength: the ability and willingness to serve others.  The other reason is more selfish on our part: we want some more great African food!

We feel that Nsona’s presence in the film will show that Omer is not alone in the work that he does.  Omer is building a coalition of like minded people, regardless of race, color, creed, or gender to help refugees make a better life in Greensboro.