More than just a Migrant: Ciné-ONU Vienna screening to mark International Migrants Day 

The topic of migration can sway elections and define the future of countries. The film “From Here” explains how migration is a humanitarian issue and shines a light on the challenges people face coming to a new country or being raised between two cultures. The film directed by Christina Antonakos-Wallace gives a glimpse into the difficulties of applying for citizenship, fighting for one’s basic needs, creating a sense of belonging and confronting discrimination daily.

VIENNA, 19 December 2023 – The documentary “From Here” tells the stories of four different people with migration backgrounds who live in Germany and the United States fighting for their rights and to be accepted into society for who they are. Christina Antonakos-Wallace's movie shows the struggles and challenges each of these individuals face daily and how they navigate the narrative set by society as well politics while understanding their identities. The audience learns about the internal conflicts the protagonists have about being part of a community, as it is not clear to them where they are accepted or belong.

After the screening experts discussed the importance of changing public perception towards migrants and understanding who they are as well as the strengths they bring to the table, led by Martin Nesirky, Director of the United Nations Information Service (UNIS) in Vienna. The panel included Amina Kurbanova, Director of Austrian Association Ariadne, Téclaire Ngo Tam, National Coordinator of European Union-Project "Life in EU" led by Südwind, and Jason Theede, Senior Regional Specialist for Labour Mobility & Social Inclusion at the International Organization of Migration (IOM).


Amina Kurbanova spoke about her personal experiences migrating to another country, fleeing her home and said she could identify with the people depicted in the film. In her current work with Ariadne, she explains that migrants who have come to Austria from Chechnya often have a desire to be politically active and want to try and make a change for the next generation: “Being able to shape the generation and essentially the society that you are a part of.” As an artist herself she believes that art can bring people together, but also that many migrants see this as something for the elite and wealthy.

All experts agreed with Téclaire Ngo Tam’s comment that society needs to “reuse competencies of migrants for them but also for us”. The National Coordinator of the “Life in EU” project explained that these talented people who are being misrepresented are also being put in the same pot. Téclaire continued to say that she has learnt many things from the migrants she has worked with and believes society could gain a lot from the knowledge these people bring into the country if they are given the opportunity.

Recently, the International Organization of Migration (IOM) appointed its first woman Director General – Amy E. Pope. Jason Theede mentioned that with her guidance IOM will be focusing on regulatory pathways and improving the systems around migration. “Pope wants to have IOM at the table and to be the agency that brings us together”.

The event was organized by UNIS Vienna in cooperation with the International Organization of Migration (IOM) Regional Office for South-Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia and the IOM Country Office for Austria and as part of IOM’s Global Film Festival to mark the International Migrants Day on 18 December. The film screening was also our last event to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 2023.