SXSW Profile: They Live Here, Now
SXSW Documentary Premiering Sunday Tells Stories of Austin Refugees
by Margaret Williams
Portrait by Van Lam
Casa Marianella, an Austin shelter providing invaluable resources to immigrants and refugees since 1986, could be perceived as hiding in plain sight. With his documentary, “They Live Here, Now,” Jason Outenreath hopes to change that by shedding light on the shelter and the people it serves. He hopes his film will “engender empathy and galvanize people to take a stake in the immigrant debate, whatever that may be.”
Outenreath moved to Austin in 2013 as a graduate film student at The University of Texas and came to know about Casa Marianella when a professor mentioned it in passing. Interested in immigration since his time living in Nicaragua as a teenager, and later as a Peace Corps volunteer, he spent hours speaking with Marianella’s residents. He describes the time he spent capturing these stories as a “privilege.”
What originally began as a still photo project in 2014 slowly morphed into the documentary-fiction hybrid described by the director as a “cinema-verite portrait of daily life for refugees from all over the world.”
According to Outenreath, the nature of what Casa Marianella does and who they serve played a large role in the structure of the film and helped determine the “unique hybrid” which combines “real-life documentary portraits … with scripted characters inspired by real life stories.” Since the center provides many services, all with an emphasis on finding permanent housing for its residents, Outenreath initially found a lack of continuity throughout his filmed weekly visits. Only after deciding to shoot the documentary continuously over one month did the film really begin to take shape. Outenreath feels strongly that “people are most convinced by other people” and can think of no better home than Austin for the premiere.
“They Live Here, Now” premieres March 11th at Alamo Drafthouse Lamar as part of the SXSW Film Festival. More information on the premier and additional screenings can be found at sxsw.com.
For more information on Casa Marianella please visit casamarianella.org