Director Tom Shepard to Present Screening of LGBT Film ‘Unsettled’

Four asylum seekers: Junior, Cheyenne, Maria and Subhi

The St. John Film Society (SJFS) has announced a one-time screening of “Unsettled: Seeking Refuge in America” at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 15, at the St. John School of The Arts in Cruz Bay. Documentary filmmaker Tom Shepard’s film has earned multiple awards, including “Best Documentary” and “Audience Choice Award” at the 2019 Q Cinema Fort Worth LGBT International Film Festival. The suggested donation is $5.

About the Film:

“Unsettled” is a three-year longitudinal, character-driven feature documentary portraying three independent and unique stories of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) refugees and asylum seekers that is told through a narrative three-act structure:

Subhi, a gay Syrian refugee who — having survived multiple death threats from Islamic terrorists, beatings by a violent and homophobic father, and a nation devastated by years of war — finds his voice as a leader for refugee rights in the U.S.

Cheyenne and Maria lesbian couple from Angola, who, having faced brutal harassment from family and neighbors, seek uncertain asylum through the American immigration courts while pursuing their dreams of becoming musicians.

Junior, a gender non-conforming gay man from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, struggles to find even basic housing and a livelihood while exploring a more fluid gender identity.

The film follows these journeys of resettlement in the San Francisco Bay area over a three-year period: arrivals and reasons for fleeing (back stories); layers of struggle, transition and acculturation in their first months and years in the U.S.; and, finally, healing from past traumas and pursuing their aspirations as they become more “settled.”

Director’s Statement

“As a member of the LGBT community, growing up in the U.S., I was faced with misrepresentations of queer people. Documentary filmmaking, for me, has become not only a craft but a way to reach into the darker corners of my own life and explore forces that scapegoat groups of people. There are few groups in current international discourse more maligned than refugees and immigrants. That discourse in the U.S. has turned toxic.

What drives this work is finding humanizing, non-threatening occasions for viewers to rethink attitudes and policies and use the empathic power of the film to change hearts and minds. As current American leadership steers away from multilateral policies and pluralism (and closer to isolationism and tribalism), I hope “Unsettled” will lift the voices of those who argue for engagement, cultural diplomacy and meaningful response to those who are most persecuted.” — Tom Shepard

“America’s striking recent populist turn against immigration in a nation built on immigrants — and the deaf ear turned to the flight from poverty and persecution in the “land of opportunity” — are ironies not lost on Unsettled.”- Dennis Harvey, Variety 5/3/19

About the Director/ Producer

For 20 years, filmmaker Tom Shepard has produced, directed, edited and distributed documentary films. Four of his feature projects – “Scout’s Honor,” “Knocking,” “Whiz Kids” and “The Grove” – have aired nationally on PBS. Coverage of his work has been featured prominently in the U.S. and foreign press, including in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and Boston Globe. Shepard’s films have played in more than 150 film festivals world-wide – including “Full Frame,” “Silver Docs” and the “Sundance Film Festival” (where he won two top awards in 2001). “Unsettled” —

St. John Film Society (SJFS) is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Virgin Island Council on the Arts and the St. John Community Foundation.

For more information, contact: the St. John Film Society at or or 715-0551. Contact Andrea Leland, SJFS director, at 847-280-1968.

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