A roadside motel off of I-95 is an unlikely haven for asylum seekers during their first hours in America. And yet, after their long journeys, this is where many refugees will spend their very first night in this country, before taking connecting flights to their final point of resettlement. “Hotel U.S.A.”
captures a group of newcomers during their first moments in the country, exploring the sense of loss
and hope that pervades the refugee experience.
Millions of refugees vie for entry to the United States, but only the lucky few are approved for
resettlement here. Their journeys, organized by the International Organization for Migration, are long
and exhausting. When they finally arrive on our shores, a new life filled with uncertainty lies ahead.
During the course of just one night at this motel, refugees get their first taste of life in the country.
Some arrive after decades in a refugee camp, and learn how to use a TV or turn on a faucet. Others
mourn what has been left behind and contemplate what the future holds. For all of them, this is a
moment to catch their breath at a suspended moment in their journey, before they face the hurdles
that lie ahead.
Moving quietly from room to room, this short, observational documentary points a humanistic lens at a little-seen moment in the refugee story, revealing both the mundane and extraordinary moments of a displaced life.
Hotel USA is a tender and intimate documentary that follows a group of refugees as they spend their first night in the United States in a New Jersey roadside motel, before settling into their new lives. Not much is said about the undoubtedly harrowing conditions that have landed them there, the harsh immigration procedures they have had to pass through to justify their place, or the inevitable challenges they will face in creating a life in a foreign land. Instead, we see a young woman worried about whether she’s packed her makeup and a father wondering what job he’ll find to support his family. These might be small parts of a refugee’s experience, but they are essential. - Guernica Magazine
Directed by Andrea Meller & Marisa Pearl
AWARDS & NOMINATIONS
WINNER: Short Documentary Awards, Minneapolis St. Paul, International Film Festival 2017
OFFICIAL SELECTION Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2017
OFFICIAL SELECTION Tribeca Film Festival 2017
OFFICIAL SELECTION DocuWest Documentary Film Festival 'We Have Issues' 2017
OFFICIAL SELECTION BIG SKY Documentary Festival 2017
OFFICIAL SELECTION DOCFEST SF Documentary Festival 2017
You can access the film (rent or buy option) via Vimeo here.
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