American Refugees


The Beast Inside

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Super Dads

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The Smiths

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Home For Sale

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Super Dads


By Sihanouk Mariona
Written By Heather Cimmy Ayres

Using a kaleidoscope of real stories to create an overarching storyline, fathers and children share their worries, feelings, challenges and how they overcame being homeless using stop motion animated clay characters.

Sihanouk Mariona is an Emmy award-winning stop-motion animator whose work includes animation for Robot Chicken seasons one through five, Robot Chicken Star Wars III, and MTVs Celebrity Death Match. Mariona taught stop-motion animation to disadvantaged youth in California before relocating to Seattle, where he co-founded the animation studio Wonderful Lizard.

Heather Cimmy Ayres is a Seattle-based writer and director whose credits include Betty (2010), a 35mm short film that premiered at SIFF and Palm Springs International ShortFest; 2006 SIFF Fly Screenwriter; and 2004 SIFF Fly (Documentary) Filmmaker. She has supported film and media nonprofits in numerous roles, including serving on the board of 911 Media Arts Center and writing grants for Northwest Film Forum. Her documentary training began with the KCTS-sponsored New Voices Documentary Program, mentoring alongside some of the region’s leading storytellers.


The Beast Inside

By Amy Enser and Drew Christie

Told through the power of spoken word rap and illustrated with hand-drawn animations and a muted warm color palette, a teen in a homeless family describes his challenges and celebrates the triumph of his creative self.

Amy Enser is an award-winning filmmaker with extensive documentary and narrative film experience, including the Dinner Dialogues Documentary Series, (2013 Bronze Telly Award winner), Welcome to Doe Bay (SIFF’s 2012 “Best of Fest”), and the feature film This is Ours. In 2011, Enser joined Studio216, Inc. as its Creative Director.

Drew Christie is an animator, illustrator and filmmaker creating stories through hand-made images. His work has been featured in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, The Atlantic, Drawn, Cartoon Brew, Boooooooom!, Juxtapoz, The Daily Beast, and Seattle Magazine. Christie co-founded and creates animation for Kalakala Co in Langley, WA.


Home for Sale

By Laura Jean Cronin

Imagine seeing glimpses of the family who once lived in the foreclosed home you’re touring and considering to buy. This powerful piece comes from its radio play nature and rich oil paintings that were physically layered to create the 30-plus animated images seen in the film.

Laura Jean Cronin is an award-winning filmmaker. Her short films have earned national attention, and her screenplay, Princess and Buddha has won numerous honors. Cronin is a Producer at Reel Grrls and the owner of Pound Pictures. She possesses multiple degrees and learned film production at 911 Media Arts.


The Smiths

By Neely Goniodsky

Hand-drawn animation, digital cutouts, and paintings are used to tell this heartwarming story about how a family falls into homelessness, and then is able to move out of it with the help of a compassionate, supportive community.

Neely Goniodsky has produced and directed 16 animated shorts; many have been screened throughout the world. Her work explores traditional animation techniques, cut-out collage and under the camera animation. Goniondsky possesses a BFA in film animation from Concordia University, and a master’s in animation from The Royal College of Art.


American Refugees was produced as part of Seattle University’s Film & Family Homelessness Project, which was managed by Lindy Boustedt and funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. For more information, contact Lindy Boustedt at