Making Home Movies

  • location Citywide
  • Neighborhood


  • completion date

    July 01, 2022

About the Project 

Making Home Movies, a signature project from Mural Arts Philadelphia’s Porch Light program, presents (6) short films by visual artist Shira Walinsky in collaboration with Bhutanese/Nepali and Karen/Burmese community members. For ten years, Walinsky taught art and ESL classes to refugee families at MAP’s Southeast by Southeast storefront community center. Participants gathered to share their collective and intergenerational stories of survival and making a new life in the United States. Individuals and families share their different realities of migration. Themes of war, loss, arrival and rebuilding are revealed through interviews, poetry, photos, music, animation, and original drawings. For both parents and children, life in another country is an ongoing experience of “making home.” Where two languages and cultures merge, the story of “home” emerges.

Available for educational use (speakers available upon request):

  • Public Libraries
  • Schools
  • Community Centers
  • Media Arts Organizations
  • Art Education Programs
  • Galleries
  • Museums

PLKK You Are Here  

(USA, 2019, 10min)
Written with poet Ujjwala Maharjan, PLKK You Are Here intertwines reflections of five Bhutanese Nepali refugees living in Philadelphia and their collective story of life in Bhutan, refugee camps, and rebuilding in the United States.

Nettles Sisnu  

(USA, 2022, 6min)
Mother Dhan Tamang and her daughter Amanda Tamang search for nettles/sisnu in FDR Park. Through their walk, Amanda discovers stories of her mother’s life in Bhutan.

Better Life Bright Lights  

(USA, 2019, 11min)
Four resilient Karen women, farmers, weavers, and survivors share memories of their first home, Burma, as well as life in the jungle, the refugee camps in Thailand, and realities as recent arrivals to Philadelphia.

Save the Seeds  

(USA, 2022, 9min)
83-year-old Gay Lay, a Karen woman and single mom of six, and her daughter Mu Nae share memories of surviving the Burmese army, life in the jungle, and refugee camp—and what Motherhood means to their daughters and granddaughters in the United States.

Lucky To Have This Daughter  

(USA, 2022, 9min)
15-year-old Hae Paw narrates the story of her mother’s life in Burma, their shared life in a Thailand refugee camp, and their mutual growth in the United States. How do traditional family parent-child relationships change when a teenage daughter must help the family navigate life in the U.S.?

Bless And Keep You 

(USA, 2022, 11min)
Bless and Keep You is the story of a father and daughter separated for 25 year by the Civil War in Burma. War creates impossible choices for parents. The story moves through the challenges of reunification and building family despite separation.


Filmmaker and Artist: Shira Walinsky
Community Leader: Naw Doh
Project Participants: Gay Lay, Mu Nae, Dhan Tamang, Amanda Tamang, Hae Paw, Hser Ku, Mu Pah Doh, Naw Lah Lwe Thaw, Mnar Shay, Ma Kay Saw, Dah Dah, Cloh Paw, Goma Sharma, Birkha Tamang, Harka Rai, Gauri Laminchane, Mon Tamang, Pahal Tamang, Ujjwala Maharjan (Poet, PLKK!)
Project Manager: Corin Wilson (2019) and Cindy Burstein (2022)
Consulting Producer: Cindy Burstein
Production Support: Laura Deutch (2019)

Major funding 

PNC Arts Alive

Additional support  

City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS) and the William Penn Foundation.