A short documentary by Valparaiso University Assistant Professor Liz Wuerffel, recent graduate Saddam Al-Zubaidi, and digital media graduate student Sarhang Sherwany is an official selection of the Redlands Film and Beer Festival in Redlands, Calif., Oct 22–25.

The three filmmakers traveled to Kurdish Region, Iraq, in 2014 to film “Kawergosk: Home Made of Cloth,” which tells the story of Syrian Kurds attempting to build a life at the Kawergosk Refugee Camp. The Redlands Festival marks the official debut of the documentary.

“During filming, many of the refugees we met wanted Americans to better understand their situation,” Wuerffel said. “It was an honor to have been trusted with their stories, and we’re very glad to be able to share them at Redlands.”

Both Al-Zubaidi and Sherwany are from Erbil, which is the capital of Kurdish Region, Iraq. The Kurdish people span across Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Syria, and Iraqi Kurdistan is unique in that it is autonomous. Sherwany was impressed by the Kurdish people and government’s willingness to help those who fled Syria, even reprioritizing their own goals to help this population. He was able to interview the governor, who acknowledged that even though these refugees are not from Iraq, they are all Kurdish, and it is important for them to help each other.

Wuerffel said they’re excited about this festival because of its focus on emerging filmmakers, and proceeds benefit a youth media organization called Media Arts Lab. She said the team has three primary goals for their project: to raise awareness of the Syrian refugee crisis, to educate people about the complexities of the issues and the region, and to paint a portrait of this particular camp.

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