Bungalow, cottage, flat, gaff, hut, ranch, kulia, siheyuan, yurt are some of the ways we describe our dwelling. Perhaps the most complex question immigrants and refugees have trouble answering is - Where is home? Is it the place where you are physically located? Is it where your heart is? It is where your memories are? With that in mind, we decided to build a curated website and a film festival that celebrates the lives and experiences of immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, expats who left their land of birth for myriad of reasons and moved to a new country. We are interested in wide variety of topics such as migration journey, border security, education, employment, documented and undocumented immigration, community integration, family separation, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), resettlement of refugee and asylum seekers etc. We encourage various storytellers to share their work with almost 800,000 immigrants who reside in North Carolina state and beyond.

The film festival was launched in October 2019 and was organized by two non-profit organizations, namely, International Focus and the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants -North Carolina and an independent film production company-VerveFilms. The three-day event included fictional and documentary pieces from local filmmakers, panel discussions, and a celebratory reception.

In 2020, we went online and presented 25 films and music video which was viewed by more than 2000 individuals from all over the world.

In 2021, due to resurgence of COVID delta variant we moved the festival online. We showcased 19 films from all over the world. In order to encourage storytelling of various types, Home Is Distant Shores will be a curated website.

In 2022, we finally brought the festival back to the theater after couple years of virtual screenings. On July 23rd 2022, we screening two blocks with 6 films each. After each screening we held Q&A with the filmmakers and community leaders to share their immigrant and refugee experience.

- It is assumed that filmmakers and artists who submit their work to Home Is Distant Shores have appropriate permissions, authorization and clearances for their work.

- If the work is selected, the filmmaker will not withdraw its submission from distribution for the current screening schedule or any future screening plans including but not limited to traveling festivals and educational screenings. The selection committee is not obligated to seek permission of the filmmakers for future screening opportunities.

- The film may not be selected if there is substantial content related to violence, animal exploitation, sexual material or anything that could offend our viewers. It's up to the selection committee to make that determination.

- Submitter also gives Home Is Distant Shores permission to use stills, FilmFreeway content and excerpts from accepted works for marketing, promotional and sales purposes.

- Home Is Distant Shores reserves the right to disqualify any submission without refund of submission fees.

- There is no restriction on public or online screening of the films. There is also no world premiere requirement. If selected and if the film is indeed a world, regional or any other kind of premiere, please inform the organizers.

- All selected work may be screened more than once, and are scheduled at the discretion of the festival organizers.

- Upon submission, the submitter consents to allowing their submitted work to be shared in its entirety with appropriate Home Is Distant Shores staff, including but not limited to programming staff, screeners etc. It may be shared with media outlets to potentially secure press for the film. If applicable, also with award jury members before, during or on culmination of the screening.

- The festival reserves the right to complete/add any information not provided by the submitter from whatever source available and will not be held responsible if incorrect information is entered.

- The submitter shall indemnify and hold harmless Home Is Distant Shores from and against any and all claims, liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses (including but not limited to attorney's fees, and costs of litigation) which may be incurred by reason of any claim including but not limited to copyright, trademark, credits, publicity, screening, and loss or damage to the work entered in the film festival.

- The submitter approves potential future screenings of their work as part of film series, community screenings, educational screenings, etc. Before the work is publicly exhibited, the festival organizers will attempt to seek the permission from at least one person associated with the film such as the submitter, filmmaker, producers, director etc.

- Home Is Distant Shores does not pay screening (online or theatrical) fees or guarantee travel or distribution for filmmakers.

- Film submission entry fees are non-refundable.

- The submitter has read and understood the rules and regulations. The submitter is duly authorized to submit this film to the Home Is Distant Shores.

Overall Rating
  • Juliana Saragosa

    Really amazing festival. The people contacting me were very personable and helpful. I was so honoured to have my film showcased along with such important and inspiring work.

    February 2022
    Response from festival:

    Thank you so much for your review. We loved your film and hope to see you again at our festival in the near future. Keep making art!

  • Home Is Distant Shores is a very special film festival, and I was honored to not only take part but that my film won Best Short Documentary. A huge thanks to the entire HIDS team for curating such an important collection of films and for gathering like-minded filmmakers together, even if virtually.

    November 2021
    Response from festival:

    Kaia you are a gifted filmmaker and your work is incredible. It was our honor to showcase your film and please keep you posted on your future work related to immigrants and refugees. Keep making art!

  • DosVelas Pictures

    Aby Rao and the small but mighty team of HIDS made the 2020 (pandemic) edition excepcional. As everything had to go online it was too bad we couldn't all meet in person, but they made a thoughtful, provoking program designed to bring awareness to tribal cultures and themes that ran through the festival. I wish them well and hope they can share these vital stories for years to come.

    December 2020
    Response from festival:

    It was our honor to showcase your film at our festival. Please keep us posted on your future projects, especially, the ones related to immigrants and refugees. Good luck!

  • Erin Kokdil

    We were excited that our first-time filmmakers had the opportunity to be a part of this experience. The communication was consistent and supportive. As we begin submitting films from our 2020 Youth Media Academy, we hope they will have the opportunity to also participate in this wonderful film festival. Thank you for taking such great care of the next generation of filmmakers.

    November 2020
    Response from festival:

    Thank you so much for your feedback. We love young filmmakers and their perspective towards immigration and refugee topics. We look forward to their stories.