Experiencing Interruptions?

The Waitlist

Since 2016, the U.S. has been turning away asylum seekers who arrive at its border with Mexico, limiting how many are allowed in each day. Now thousands of refugees from around the world are stuck there waiting indefinitely for their chance to ask the U.S. authorities for asylum. In The Waitlist, we hear refugees from Cameroon, Honduras, and Haiti narrate what this dreadful limbo is like and show us how informal waitlist systems have come to dictate their lives.

  • Natasha Pizzey-Siegert
  • James Fredrick
  • James Fredrick
  • Natasha Pizzey-Siegert
    Colossus (2018)
  • Katrine Dermody
    Executive Producer
  • Japhet Weeks
    Executive Producer
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short, Web / New Media
  • Genres:
    Documentary, Short, Immigration, Current Affairs, Border, Refugees
  • Runtime:
    10 minutes 13 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    April 9, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    11,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
    English, Spanish
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Natasha Pizzey-Siegert, James Fredrick

Natasha Pizzey-Siegert is a filmmaker and multimedia journalist based in Mexico City. She is Colombian and British and has been roaming around Latin America for the last decade, with stories ranging from the Zika outbreak in El Salvador to migrant caravans in Mexico. She works both in front of and behind the camera on productions for HBO, the BBC, The Washington Post, Teen Vogue, and Al Jazeera. Natasha co-produced a feature length documentary, Colossus, exploring the effects of separation on a migrant family divided between the U.S. and Honduras.

James Fredrick is a multimedia journalist based in Mexico City since 2012. He is frequent contributor to NPR and works regularly for PBS NewsHour, Vox, the Washington Post and the Financial Times. He focuses on migrant and refugee stories, all the way from gang-ridden neighborhoods in Honduras to the US-Mexico border fence. He and Natasha are currently producing their own feature-length documentary about refugees trying to reach the US.

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Director Statement

We've both spent years working on migrant stories that give reporters the last word (we've often been those correspondents ourselves) and slot migrant stories into neat categories. But after spending so much time with migrants and refugees across the region, we grew frustrated by how much of their personal reflections and agonising decision-making are left out of these narratives. In The Waitlist, we wanted asylum seekers to speak as freely as possible, presenting their stories how they wanted. We hoped to let them share some of the painful questions, doubts, and frustrations we normally hear when cameras aren't rolling. When we got to Tijuana to film this in January 2019, the situation was extremely tense. U.S. government policies on asylum seekers were in flux so people wanted to speak out about the effect this was having but were very scared of the potential repercussions of being identified. In response to this, we asked refugees from all over the world to guide us in how they wanted to share their stories. These conversations led to the decision to make this film an anonymous visual poem from the border, capturing the sense of the urgency alongside the humanity and intimacy participants chose to share. We decided to make it black and white to reflect a sense of timelessness in this grim ongoing reality that exists so close to the supposedly shiny American Dream just inches away.