One night at her home in southeastern Congo, 14-year-old Mugeni awakes to the sounds of bombs. As her family scatters to the surrounding forests to save themselves, Mugeni finds herself completely alone. From there, she sets out on a remarkable solo journey across the globe, determined to reunite with her lost loved ones and lift up the Banyamulenge people. Despite unimaginable obstacles, Mugeni’s story is ultimately a portrait of hope, love, and family bonds.

Directed and produced by Amy Bench, produced by Carolyn Merriman, animation director Maya Edelman, and executive producers Eloise DeJoria and Constance Dykhuizen.


Mugeni’s story brings much-needed attention to the denial of citizenship and humanitarian crisis happening in southeastern Congo where militia attacks on the Banyamulenge, a persecuted minority, have led to the destruction of hundreds of villages and the displacement of over 200,000 people. As a result of this genocide, many have ended up as refugees in neighbouring countries or scattered across the globe. As a safe and welcoming sanctuary for persecuted people, the United States has, at times, welcomed and resettled, on humanitarian grounds, unaccompanied minors like Mugeni. This life-saving program was nearly eliminated in 2018, leaving thousands like Mugeni with fewer places to turn to for help.

Unaccompanied refugee children are the most vulnerable of the vulnerable, and for over forty years the United States, working with the United Nations, has provided a pathway for a small yet critical number of this population. The previous administration sought to take that away. Stories such as Mugeni’s highlight the need to provide safe spaces for the children who need it most—and work to expose audiences to the issue, protecting the legacy of the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program (URM).


Rich, textured colours and a limitless palette strive to match the breadth of Mugeni’s sensitivity and boldness. Her zest for life is the underlying fabric of the story. The design is grounded in reality while capturing the emotional aspect of being a migrant and refugee. As “home” is a through line in the film, the filmmakers worked with Animation Director Maya Edelman to carefully consider each landscape Mugeni moves through on her journey. The language of this film is one where these large landscapes and the juxtaposition of simplified character animation allow the audience to focus on Mugeni’s very dense recollections of the horrific circumstances by which she fled her home country, and the trials she surmounted along the way. The team’s approach allows the viewer to witness events in a way that does not distract, glorify, or burden the storyteller with brutal imagery, in turn creating a unique level of intimacy that can transcend what’s possible in other visual forms.


Sunday, June 12 at 2:15 PM (Public)
Village East by Angelika: Theater 7
Playing in: Animated Shorts Curated By Whoopi G
Note: This screening is “rush” only at this point
Director Amy Bench in-person!

Monday, June 13 at 2:45 PM (Public)
Cinépolis Chelsea: Theater 5
Playing in: Animated Shorts Curated By Whoopi G
Director Amy Bench in-person!

Starts Tuesday, June 14 at 6:00 PM Tribeca At Home (Virtual)
Get an At Home Shorts Pass and watch all of Tribeca shorts from home!

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