Today in the Mission Yearbook

PDA documentary breathes life into refugee crisis


‘To Breathe Free’ featured at Washington, D.C., film festival

November 14, 2018

Screenshot from ‘To Breathe Free.’

To Breathe Free, a short movie produced by Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA), was screened twice at the recent DC Shorts Film Festival in Washington, D.C. Produced and shot in D.C., the film follows the five-year saga of a Syrian family fleeing the war in Homs, Syria, to refugee camps in Jordan to beginning their new life in the nation’s capital. The 16-minute documentary, which focuses on the humanity of refugees, brings a perspective and voice that goes beyond the political rhetoric surrounding the ongoing refugee debate.

To Breathe Free was shown at Landmark’s E Street Cinema in Washington, D.C. The film’s director, David Barnhart, PDA associate for story ministry, uses home movies, phone video, family photos, and interviews with family members and former refugees to provide an intimate and unique perspective not seen in current media reporting regarding the refugee crisis.

“One of the many narratives that make up the complex history and identity of this country is the story of refugees and asylum seekers, and it’s shocking that the current administration is essentially denying this part of our nation’s identity,” said Barnhart. “Our film weaves together narratives of refugees, past and present, and I feel now is the time to honor and celebrate the refugee story as part of our American experience and identity.”

The refugee family and former refugees featured in To Breathe Free attended one of the screenings to present their stories personally and lead a Q&A session with attendees.

Three of PDA’s Story Productions documentary films have recently won Impact Doc awards, which celebrates excellence in social issue documentary filmmaking. They are Locked in a Box: Immigration Detention, Trigger: The Ripple Effect of Gun Violence, and To Breathe Free.

“We believe in the power of story to connect and create wider circles of community and essentially these documentaries are resources for communities and congregations,” said Barnhart. “PDA is committed to story and recognizes its value and importance as a means to cultivate community engagement and action.”

Visit for more information about award-winning documentaries and resources on immigration, gun violence, race and racism, and more.

 Scott O’Neill, Communications Associate, Project Management, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Today’s Focus:  Presbyterian Disaster Assistance short film

Let us join in prayer for: 

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Mickie Choi, ILP
Sean Chow, PMA

Let us pray:

Loving God, thank you for continuing to move in our lives: for sending us and for sending others to us. Bless all whom you call to serve, whether down the street or across the world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Readings 

Morning Psalms 15; 147:1-11
First Reading Joel 2:12-19
Second Reading Revelation 19:11-21
Gospel Reading Luke 15:1-10
Evening Psalms 48; 4