Years ago Daniel, a former pre-med student and social worker, visited a friend in Moab, Utah. He decided to stay, committed to life without the use of money, and for a time took shelter in a cave. His thoughts on home: “Wherever we are, that’s who we are. That’s home.”
Xong moved to Wisconsin as a child Hmong refugee after the Vietnam War. In the years that followed she experienced “a lot of racism, a lot of discrimination” there, but as an adult is determined to help her local Hmong community cope with trauma and rebuild and embrace their identity.
Clay left his Tennessee home after his son’s suicide and found meaning in helping the people in his Nevada trailer park. “Nevada is my home now,” he said, “and it’s gonna be my home until Nevada kicks me out.”
Daniel, Xong and Clay are three of the people featured in Brad Barber’s new short-documentary series, “States of America.” For the series, the Emmy-nominated theatre and media arts professor is featuring one person from every state in 50 four- to five-minute films. He launched the series online a year ago and has been releasing one documentary per month since.
The short films “provide an opportunity to listen to and understand lots of different types of Americans in diverse corners of our country,” said Barber, who was named one of Variety’s 10 Documakers to Watch in 2015. “At a time where we are increasingly divided, this kind of empathic experience feels more urgent now than ever.”
Read more about the TMA professor’s project at news.byu.edu.