7 free short films about refugees recommended by human rights educators

By Camille Roch

Short films and videos can be useful conversation starters for teachers, educators, facilitators or anyone wishing to learn more about human rights. Here are seven freely available videos on the reality of life as a refugee, ranging from one to 16 minutes in length recommended by Amnesty International’s human rights education network.

1. People of nowhere

In the short clip People of nowhere, Lior Sperandeo, who previously directed the series People of MumbaiPeople of Nepal and People of Senegal looks at the human consequences of the Syrian conflict and the resulting populations’ displacements. The video compiles images of the people he met and the scenes he shot on the Greek island of Lesbos. 

Director: Lior Sperandeo

2015 / 1:58 

2. A journey from Afghanistan (Seeking Refuge)

The award-winning Seeking Refuge series is composed of short animated documentaries, each focusing on the plight of refugee children and their adaptation to a new country. Told in the words of a 10 year old, Ali’s story focuses on the case of a young boy separated from his family after he escapes war. 

Watch the full Seeking Refuge series of real life stories of young people fleeing their homelands.

Director: Andy Glynne and Salvador Maldonado (BBC)

2012 / 3:25

3. Then I came by boat

In the award-winning short documentary Then I came by boat, Tri Nguyen shares his memories of when he left war-torn Vietnam as a child to cross the ocean on a wooden boat, and the way he was received as a refugee in Australia. 

Director: Marleena Forward

2014 / 10:18 

4. Malak and the boat

The first animation of the Unfairy Tales series Malak and the boat, released for the launch of UNICEF’s global campaign on the Syrian refugee crisis, brings attention to the stories of the youngest victims of the Syrian conflict as they flee war. Aboard a light boat, 7 year old Malak explains her journey as she crosses the Mediterranean. 

Director: Andre Holzmeister (UNICEF)

2016 / 1:16

5. Life on hold

The short film Life on hold tells the everyday life of Omar, a 17 year old Somali living in a refugee camp situated at the Tunisian border. Since the 2011 war broke out, thousands of refugees from Somalia, Sudan and Eritrea who were living or transiting through Libya have been forced to find refuge in neighboring countries. They’re now awaiting in refugee camps at the Tunisian and Egyptian borders, unable to either leave or stay.

Director: Nick Francis and Marc Silver (Amnesty International)

2012 / 6:53

6. Rain is beautiful

Rain is beautiful is the second episode of Omar’s journey as told in the video Life on hold. He’s about to leave the Choucha refugee camp at the Tunisian border and fly to a new life in Sweden. The short documentary films the young man’s arrival at the airport and the first steps of his resettlement in the country. 

Director: Nick Francis and Marc Silver (Amnesty International)

2012 / 7:53

7. When you don’t exist

The short film When you don't exist imagines a scenario where migration flows would be reversed from those commonly perceived in Europe: as violent unrest causes people to flee Europe in mass and reach Africa, they are forcibly taken by authorities and jailed in refugee camps.

When you don't exist is Amnesty International's campaign for the human rights of migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers in Europe and at its borders.

Director: Jon Drever (Amnesty International)

2013 / 2:10 

Subscribe to the Human Rights Education Blog Series 

Find out more

Where to learn about the world refugee crisis