“More Than I Remember,” an animated short directed by Amy Bench and designed by Maya Edelman — who was born in Kiyv and came to the U.S. at 13 as a refugee — is having its premiere Friday at the SXSW fest in Austin.
The timely pic, which delves into humanitarian and refugee issues, particularly as they relate to minors fleeing conflict, is set in southeastern Congo where militia attacks on the Banyamulenge, a persecuted minority, have led to the destruction of hundreds of villages and the displacement of over 200,000 people.
It’s the story of a 14-year-old named Mugeni who, after waking up to the sounds of bombs, finds herself completely alone since her family has scattered to the surrounding forests, inadvertently leaving her behind. She then sets out on a solo journey across the planet.
As a result of the genocide, many Banyamulenge have ended up as refugees in neighboring countries or scattered across the globe. As a safe and welcoming sanctuary for persecuted people, the U.S. has, at times, welcomed and resettled minors separated from their family like Mugeni on humanitarian grounds.
Stories such as Mugeni’s highlight the need to provide safe spaces for the children who need it most — and work to expose audiences to the issue, protecting the legacy of the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program (URM), the film’s team noted in a statement.
“More Than I Remember” is directed and produced by Amy Bench and produced by Carolyn Merriman. The animation director is Maya Edelman, and executive producers are Eloise DeJoria and Constance Dykhuizen.
Support for the short was provided by the IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund, Austin Film Society, Still I Rise Fellowship Program, City of Austin Cultural Development, JP’s Peace Love & Happiness Foundation, Bethany Christian Services, and ConnectHer.
Watch the trailer here: