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Buy the Well-Founded Fear: Tales From Real Life DVD by documentary filmmakers Shari Robertson & Michael Camerini
Tales From Real Life

From the archive of footage produced for the ground-breaking documentary Well - Founded Fear comes a set of video modules that offer an unprecedented look into what goes on behind the electronic doors of our nation's asylum offices. Screened individually or in any combination, these short films mirror what happens in the asylum office hundreds of times every day - Americans come face to face with the rest of the World.

Asylum officers represent the people and the government of the United States. Asylum-seekers who come to ask for protection represent only themselves, their particular life circumstances, their own unique luck. For this reason, every asylum interview has the makings of a novel.

Tales From Real Life is an introduction to five of those stories. Five people from different countries and very different lives, they are five people you'll want to know - a grandmother who was once a resistance fighter, a high school kid whose life was changed forever by an article he wrote for his school newspaper, an indigenous artist caught in a civil war, a political dissident who describes his unusual torture after a midnight arrest, a woman whose story shows how domestic violence can become political.

None of these tales has been available until now. Out of 50 asylum cases, we chose the best. Each person is someone you'll remember and wonder about. Each story opens the door to universe of questions, and each can be looked at in several ways.

We left the stories open-ended, trusting that creative teachers and discussion leaders will use them to initiate many unique conversations.

Please remember - each story is about the person asking for asylum, but each one is also about us. Tales From Real Life raises a lot of questions, but inside every question hides these: What are our values? Who are we?

Get Interviewed by Asylum Officer Tatiana Pahman on an interactive PBS website