Veteran documentary filmmakers Shari Robertson and Michael Camerini have been making films about cultures and political situations outside the U.S. for more than 30 years. For more than half as long, they’ve been married and working together from their New York City production companies, The Epidavros Project, Inc. and Epidoko Pictures.
Before joining forces, the two had worked separately and together in more than 40 locations on three continents outside the United States. Some of their titles include Dadi’s Family, Born Again, Kamala and Raji, Inside the Khmer Rouge, Washington/Peru: We Ain’t Winnin’, and their first collaboration, shot in Malawi and Guinea, These Girls Are Missing.
In every situation, they shared the aim to understand and translate into film the life experience of particular people for audiences in other places. In 2000, their first US collaboration, an inside look at the American political asylum system, became the ground-breaking feature documentary, Well-Founded Fear. A national POV premiere in June was preceded by a number of festival venues, including Sundance 2000.
In the summer of 2001, still in the United States, they began following the path of the effort in Washington, DC and around the country to achieve immigration reform, something that looked likely to become the law of the land within the year. It was a way into the most compelling, and by far the most complex, culture and political situation they had ever encountered. A dozen years later, Epidavros completed ten of the feature-length films in How Democracy Works Now. All ten films were shown together for the first time in a three-day world premiere in the New York Film Festival 51 at Lincoln Center, and are now available on Netflix.
The new Epidoko Pictures feature documentary aims to help Americans understand how and why immigration is so complicated, through an up-to-date look at the politics of immigration. Principal photography began early in 2103, when a “happy ending” seemed inevitable, but the edit began in 2015, with President Obama’s executive orders on deportation deferrals taking center stage. Robertson and Camerini hope the new film will be the capstone to How Democracy Works Now.