In the tough, small, blue-collar city of Rutland, Vermont, the mayor and a passionate group of community members lead the fight to resettle Syrian refugees in their town – building on the city’s efforts to recover from the ravages of the opioid epidemic, decades of economic hardship, and a steadily shrinking population.
As the national divide over national identity and immigration rages, the Rutland community sharply splits into bitterly opposed camps. Many community members eagerly embrace resettlement as an engine for economic growth and new diversity to a white and graying population. But many others fear the newcomers will bring terrorism, drains on social services, and irreversible changes to the town’s way of life.
Closely following the mayor and a small ensemble of intersecting characters over two years as refugee families begin to arrive and build new lives in the town, this verite feature-length documentary explores what will change – for everyone – when small-town America meets the Syrian civil war.
About the Filmmakers
Jennifer makes colorful, character-based films about real people with extraordinary stories. Her work has shown at venues like the Sundance, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Locarno Film Festivals, International Documentary Festival Amsterdam, New York Museum of Modern Art, PBS, Sundance Channel, and NHK-Japan. Recent films include Daisy and Max, a long-form documentary commissioned by Al Jazeera America, and the short Visiting Day for The Atlantic. Other credits include the award-winning documentaries New Muslim Cool, Special Circumstances, Paulina, Home Front, and many short films and co-productions. Jennifer is an Assistant Professor of Social Documentation and Film and Digital Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Born in California of Irish/English, Sicilian and Mexican heritage, she grew up in Los Angeles and Vermont. In addition to her work on The Gut, she has two new upcoming short films Redneck Muslim and Message to Zaire, exploring how American Muslims are challenging assumptions about race and gender.