About the project

NO SEPARATE SURVIVAL is a live-action and animation documentary film co-produced with asylum-seekers on both sides of the California/Mexico border as they reckon with trauma, loss and hope. In dialogue with grassroots activist voices, they shed light on urgent social issues inseparable from forced migration: war, poverty, colonialism, police violence, femicide, LGBTQ freedom, and land and labor rights.

Built into our film project are new models for digital arts workshops for displaced migrants in Baja, Southern and Northern California, coupled with access to mental health services. We believe in the proven power of giving asylum-seekers control of their narratives, and in building space for healing through creative multi-media and artistic expression.

About the Filmmakers

Director & Producer

Shabnam Piryaei has written and directed short films that have screened in the US and internationally at film festivals, art galleries and public installations. She is the author of the books: Nothing is Wasted (The Operating System, 2017), Forward (Museum Books, 2014), and Ode to Fragile (Plain View Press, 2010). Her play “A Time to Speak” was staged at the MAD Theatre Festival in the United Kingdom. She holds a PhD in Comparative Literature and teaches in the department of Broadcast & Electronic Communication Arts at San Francisco State University. She is the founder and curator of the online art and interview journal MUSEUM. You can read more about her work here.


Gabriel Rivera has worked in non-scripted television production for over a decade. He has overseen post-production on a variety of programs and documentary series for Discovery Channel, National Geographic and A&E Network, including the Emmy Award-winning “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath”. He most recently worked in a research and investigative producer capacity on the forthcoming Amazon Prime documentary series “The Last Narc”.


Kiazad Ehya is a SF Bay Area based video artist and filmmaker who produces commercials, documentary, and narrative-style content. He has created and showcased multi-channel video installations for the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts and the French American International School of San Francisco. His work has been featured on PBS, Ebony.com and the Oakland International Film Festival. Kiazad’s personal work seeks to explore stories that represent our culturally pluralistic world and portray underrepresented perspectives of people both in the US and world-wide.

Associate Producer

Dario Valles is a Teaching Fellow at the Institute for Research on Women, Gender & Sexuality and the Anthropology department at Columbia University. With more than a decade of research in the California borderlands, Valles’ work centers on anthropological and interdisciplinary analysis of race/gender/sexuality, kinship, intimacy, labor, language, children/youth, social movements, and Latin American and Caribbean (im)migration and diaspora. He holds a PhD in Cultural and Linguistic Anthropology and specializes in legal studies and ethnographic films. His teaching and research seek to inspire youth to imagine themselves as ethnographers and researchers through participatory methods. Valles’ articles have been published in such journals as Journal of Latin American Geography and he is completing a book on migration and care across North and Central America. His research has been supported by the American Council OF Learned Societies (ACLS), Ford Foundation, National Science Foundation, Wenner-Gren Foundation, Society for Linguistic Anthropology, UCLA and the Ms. Foundation for Women.