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2018 | a documentary in collaboration with Tanya Hartman | 25 minutes

Murmurations is a short documentary created by artists Tanya Hartman and Brian Hawkins. Through interviews and impressionistic images, the film explores the intricacies, beauties, and losses in the lives of refugee and migrant teenaged students enrolled in the English as a Second/Other Language program at Wichita East High School in Wichita, Kansas.

Unlike their elders, securely rooted in the culture of their country of origin, or their younger family members, rapidly assimilating into American culture, these young adults suddenly find themselves acting as translators and breadwinners for their families, as they struggle to determine how best to balance two ways of life.

The claustrophobic disjunction between vast inner lives and the limitations of an unfamiliar language creates a lyrical cadence that runs through the film, as words and phrases are cobbled together in unexpected, poetic ways to express longing, courage, and fear. This documentary is a tribute to its subjects’ beauty and inventiveness, a ballad of longing for home and hope for the future.