California, United States
As a proud immigrant and US citizen, I have always felt our country is enriched by our beautiful diversity and have tried to live up to our foundational ideals. My previous films, songs, and performances have dealt with the experiences of immigrants and DREAMers and when the “Muslim ban” was put in place and Asylum seekers were prevented from seeking shelter at the border I felt compelled to speak up, to try to respond with empathy and compassion instead of fanning the flames of hate. I was inspired to write a song that harkens to my own feelings and experiences of being physically apart from my wife who was in Colombia at the time and to the experiences of the many immigrants and refugees that I have the honor of getting to know throughout my years of activism. The lyrics were also very consciously influenced by the Statue of Liberty and the New Colossus by Emma Lazarus. As a filmmaker, with The Flame You Keep I tried to chronicle the plight of refugees across the globe, including the story of Yusra Mardini who fled the war in Syria and became an Olympian swimmer as well as many others far from the spotlight who are as deserving of our help and compassion.
PEACE BUILDER BIOGRAPHY
Andres Useche is an award-winning Colombian American writer, film director, script doctor, singer-songwriter, visual designer, activist and screenwriting MFA professor. Andres published his first political cartoon at age 11 in a local newspaper. While in High School, he wrote and drew a graphic novel that won an award from the Colombian Ministry of Culture. He wrote, directed, scored and starred in an award-winning short before graduating from a Colombian university with a degree in visual design with an emphasis in film. He moved to LA to work as a writer/director and script doctor, earning more awards and becoming a United States citizen. As writer-director, Andres has collaborated with A-list talent and created films, songs and videos to support causes like Climate Change awareness, immigrant and refugee rights, Barack Obama’s election campaign, the Biden-Harris campaign, environmental causes, wildlife protection, and human rights. Andres also teaches an MFA in screenwriting and sings concerts, leads workshops and speaks at international events across the globe.
DAILY PEACE ACTION
Please consider helping refugees by donating to international organizations like the UNHCR, or your local orgs that help refugees and asylum seekers (a great one in my area is UURISE).