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Checking in With Refugee City

Writer/Director Tracy Sunderland pitches new Boise-based film


Coming attractions whet your movie-going appetite by hinting at films about to hit the big screen. But a select group of Treasure Valley movie fans have gotten a verbal sneak preview of Refugee City--a new short film using Boise as its backdrop--before one frame of the movie has been shot.

"I think audiences are looking for something that might be a bit atypical," said Tracy Sunderland, the film's author and director. "The feel, tone and subject matter will certainly be unique."

Sunderland, familiar to audiences of Idaho Shakespeare Festival and Boise Contemporary Theater, aspires to spend more of her artistic time behind a camera lens. She has already written and produced two short films, and now she's ready to helm her third, Refugee City, after spending two years across the pond at the London Film School.

"The world is steeped in American culture through the movies," said Sunderland. "But I still feel there are voices that we're not hearing. Plus, I don't think the world knows too much of Idaho."

Refugee City tells the story of a recently widowed Boise woman and her acquaintance with a young Iraqi teen.

"In between my acting and directing jobs in Boise, I volunteered for several years with the Agency for New Americans," said Sunderland, referring to her nonprofit work helping to resettle refugees to the Treasure Valley. "That became my inspiration."

For now, Sunderland spends much of her time fundraising. Her lean production budget totals $20,000--and she has raised $8,000 thus far through small, individual donations. Sunderland spends many evenings talking to small gatherings about her newest passion. Additionally, the film has been soliciting donations at