Resident Exile

Resident Exile

Resident Exile Synopsis

This short film, made with my friends and filmmaking partners, Michel Negroponte and Alex Anthony, was commissioned by PBS's innovative TV Lab in 1980. The three of us saw Kazem Ala, an Iranian student and political exile, briefly interviewed on a local cable access show in Austin, Texas and were very moved by his story. We spent a month filming his day to day life in Houston, during the Iranian-American hostage crisis of 1980. The film was meant to describe in subtle ways what it is to be a political exile in times of political crisis. PBS found it to be a little too subtle, and declined to air it nationally, but the film was televised on various individual PBS outlets, and seeing it recently, I was struck by how, a generation later, we're still dealing with this same situation - the clash between Islam and the West. The Presidents and Ayatollahs may have changed, but politically, things are still at crisis level. - Ross McElwee

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