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Jewish Family & Community Services East Bay (JF&CSEB) operates the only program specifically serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex refugees seeking to resettle in the United States.

Collaborating with JF&CSEB, the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life at the University of California, Berkeley, and other organizations, filmmaker Sam Ball created What We Carry with Us, short documentary films and a suite of ancillary audio and video pieces that tell LGBTQI refugees’ stories. JF&CSEB recruited project participants, who chose prized “memory objects” from among their belongings. Through interviews with the refugees that focus on the objects, Ball has produced six short films (and more may be developed). He combined footage of the clients’ interviews and their objects with archival materials and, when possible, music that related to the refugees’ stories.

Sam Ball, who produces and directs traditional documentaries as well as multimedia installations for museums and public spaces, co-founded the documentary company Citizen Film in 2002 and has won national acclaim and received prestigious grants for combining documentary storytelling with community engagement. Accordingly, the What We Carry with Us films serve as centerpieces for a 12- to 18-month public engagement campaign that culminated with presentations at the Judah Magnes Museum in Berkeley and as part of Frameline 45, the International LGBTQ Film Festival during San Francisco Pride Week in 2021.