DER Documentary

Dinka Diaries

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by Filmon Mebrahtu
color, 56 min, 2005

Non-profit, K-12, and Individual pricing also available
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Dinka Diaries tells the story of some of America's most recent arrivals: Sudanese refugees who would have never dreamt a few years ago that they'd be living in America. Over the course of ten months, the film follows the lives of three Sudanese refugees who resettle in the Philadelphia area and adjust to the new American culture and way of life. Dinka Diaries represents an important attempt to empower refugees by giving them the opportunity to represent themselves and their experiences through film.

"... Realistic, sensitive, and often gently humorous, Dinka Diaries offers a unique look into new immigrant communities which are becoming an increasingly visible part of America's contemporary urban landscape. The director allows his subjects, their friends and neighbors to speak in their own voices, involving viewers with their hopes and disappointments. It also an excellent introduction to the experience of younger immigrants as they encounter popular American culture, and I intend to use it in my University classrooms..." — Professor Lee Cassanelli, History and African Studies University of Pennsylvania
"For Joseph, Mike and Abraham (not, of course, their African names), the U.S. is a land of opportunity, but also responsibility; Mebrahtu films Deng Kuol, Abraham's brother, walking the city as he listens to a taped message from the elders of Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, reminding him that he has come here to send money back home. It is also a place where the strong ties that bind them to their culture and each other are always under attack. While one African-American girl in Mike's Central High class laments the slave master's success at severing tribal and familial loyalties,"When we were brought here, we were, like, so much stronger than we are now", another informs him, "The point of America is to do what's best for you, not everyone else." ... Dinka Diaries is an eye-opening status report on the United States' ability to live up to its own ideals..." — Screen Picks by Sam Adams, Philadelphia City Paper
"[Dinka Diaries] is informative and non-judgmental, which makes it a useful resource for classroom use." Miriam Conteh-Morgan, The Ohio State University Libraries

Related Resources
Video: interview with the filmmakers on the Riz Khan show

Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
Broadcast, WYBE - Philadelphia, September 2005
African Studies Association Conference, San Francisco, 2006
Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival, Ithaca, NY, 2007
Broadcast, National PBS stations, April 2007
Africa World Film Festival, St. Louis, MO, 2007

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Supported By Massachusetts Cultural Council National Endowment for the Humanities National Endowment for the Arts