American Refugees: Film & Family Homelessness Project

In 2013-14, the Center for Strategic Communications (CSC) selected six acclaimed Seattle-area filmmakers to participate in the Film & Family Homelessness Project. The filmmakers, working with students, staff, and community partners, created four different animated films, "American Refugees," that told the stories of the thousands of Washington families who are homeless or living in poverty. This project, which was managed by Lindy Boustedt, supported by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Find out how to host your own screening!


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.

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 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.

Super Dads

By Sihanouk Mariona
Written By Heather 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 Ayres is an award-winning writer/director who has worked with 911 Media Arts, KCTS (Seattle’s public television station) and PBS.

Host A Screening

Watching the American Refugees films can be a powerful experience, but talking about them with others is the next step in creating change! Download the American Refugees Discussion Guide and host a screening party for your community to generate dialogue about family homelessness.



Contact Us

Larry Hubbell, PhD

Catherine Hinrichsen
Project Director
Phone: 206.398.4457