What We Carry With Us

November 30, 2017
6:30pm Pacific Time
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JFI Presents ‘Talk Amongst Yourselves’: What We Carried With Us: A Refugee Storylab

You have an hour to pack up and flee your home. What do you prize most in the course of your escape, and in your search for a new country?

Documentary multimedia artist Sam Ball and UC Berkeley professor Francesco Spagnolo have teamed up with young refugee storytellers ages 18-25 to explore their most
 prized possessions in multimedia installations and events from Times Square to the CJM. Join the conversation on the creative process of creating socially-minded work as Sam and Francesco are accompanied by UC Berkeley Professor and WWII Refugee Richard Buxbaum, and LGBTQ activist and Ugandan refugee, Zander Berkeley.

"Spoiler alert: It isn't actually about the items you carry, or differences between worlds old and new. It's about who you are, a question transcending politics and borders." - G. Allen Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle

Join the Jewish Film Institute, Citizen Film and the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life for this evening of film, photography and community conversation about Jewish, Muslim and LGBT refugee experiences in person at the CJM, with an online simulcast at jfi.org/year-round/talk-amongst-yourselves.

In an effort to better understand and respond to the worst refugee crisis since the 1940s, Citizen Film and the University of California at Berkeley's Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life have been immersed in a multi-year initiative that brings refugees together to tell their stories and engage audiences in reflection and dialogue. Assuming the role of curators in an ongoing series of public exhibitions and events, refugees ranging in age from 18 to 25 gather their most prized possessions and explore those belongings in films, interactive audiovisual installations and digital maps. Designed collaboratively by refugees and a team of filmmakers, digital artists, museum curators and UC Berkeley students, a growing collection of objects and multimedia art offers a striking glimpse of what it means to leave home, when home, in the words of refugee poet Warsan Shire, "is the mouth of a shark."

Video Description

TAY Trailer_What We Carry With Us

60 minutes


  • The Jewish Film Institute

    The Jewish Film Institute (JFI) is the premier curatorial voice for Jewish film and media and a leading arts and culture organization in the Bay Area. Built on the foundation of the world-renowned San Francisco Jewish Film Festival - the world's first and largest Jewish film festival - JFI catalyzes and inspires communities in San Francisco and around the world to expand their understanding of Jewish life and culture through film, media, and dialogue. Year round, the Jewish Film Institute promotes awareness and appreciation of the diversity of the Jewish people through multiple mediums - including original online programming that reaches a global audience of over 2 million views. All of these services, along with artists' support and educational initiatives, give audiences around the world even greater access to Jewish culture and the visionaries who shape it.

  • Hanne


  • Sam Ball

    Documentary film and multimedia director Sam Ball’s works have been exhibited at many of America’s most prestigious venues, from the Sundance Film Festival to the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Sam is co-founder and director of Citizen Film, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that partners with civic, cultural and educational organizations and independent media producers to engage communities in discussing pressing issues and participating in solutions. These collaborations screen on television (PBS, HBO, IFC, TLC, etc.) and/or engage audiences thanks to collaboration with partner organizations around the country and the world.

  • Francesco Spagnolo

    Francesco Spagnolo is a multidisciplinary scholar focusing on Jewish studies, music and digital media. He is the Curator of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life and an Associate Adjunct Professor in the Department of Music at the University of California, Berkeley, as well as a host for the cultural programs of Italian National Radio (RAI) in Rome. At UC Berkeley, he is also a faculty member of the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion, and serves on the University of California’s Digital Humanities Council.

  • Richard Buxbaum

    Richard Buxbaum is an emeritus professor at UC Berkeley specializing in international refugee law. He’s both a participant and an advisor on What We Carry With Us: Refugee Storylab. Born in Germany in 1930, Richard's own family resettled in America after fleeing Nazi persecution of Jews prior to WWII. A graduate from Cornell and UC Berkeley’s Boalt School of Law, Richard practiced law in New York State and with the U.S. Army before joining the UC Berkeley Boalt School of Law faculty in 1961. He was one of the five defense counsel in the criminal proceedings against the 773 members of the Free Speech Movement from 1964 to 1967 and subsequently as defense counsel in many of the criminal proceedings that led to affirmative action programs for student admissions. From 1987 to 2003, he was editor in chief of the American Journal of Comparative Law. Richard served as dean of international and area studies at UC Berkeley from 1993 to 1999.

  • Zander Berkeley Liberty

    Zander Berkeley Liberty recently resettled in the Bay Area, from Kenya, where he spent six dangerous months in refugee camps after a perilous journey from his native Uganda after the government criminalized being gay. Zander will present and discuss multimedia renderings of the objects he brought with him, including a photo of his late partner and bracelets he created with a group of LGBT friends in Kakuma refugee camp. The bracelets are distinctive and textured with Rainbow flags, symbolizing the “ongoing fight for freedom.” Some of those friends are still in the camp and others are scattered all over the world. All continue to wear the bracelets in solidarity. Zander was assisted in his resettlement in the Bay Area by Jewish Family & Community Services of the East Bay (JFCS East Bay), which runs a unique program with a special focus on LGBTI refugee resettlement. Zander is 25 years old.

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