In accordance with its objective, which is both to strengthen the integration of new political refugees through culture and to promote the diversity of the talents welcomed in France, UMD 21 started in 2016 a new action: hosting exiled filmmakers in residency.

To this end, the representative for UNHCR in France delegated to UDM21 the role of operator of a combined workshop-housing facility at the Fondation Cite Internationale des Arts, a residency for 300 artists of all nationalities and all fields located quai de l’Hôtel de ville in the 4th arrondissement of Paris.


This action is inspired by a similar program launched by the Ville de Paris alongside various UDM21 partners (France24, RFI and Arte) to shelter endangered journalists, which has its own location (the Maison des Journalistes, in the XVth arrondissement.)

Supported by filmmakers Rithy Panh, Aderrahmane Sissako and Abbas Fahdel, honorary members of UDM21, who have themselves found shelter in France., it is firstly aimed at filmmakers, screenwriters and actors.

Indeed, filmmakers and their actors are often the targets of censorship, harassment and persecutions, even in time of peace, because of their work. Without freedom of expression and creation, they cannot produce or release their work.

They are also often the first to resist when these fundamental rights are threatened, and are therefore eligible to the constitutional asylum that France, prior to the Geneva Convention, decided to grand to any person persecuted because of their action in favour of civil and personal freedom. This is the case for all artists, but, once the protection is granted, the path left to travel is a arduous one. For once, as opposed to musicians or plastic artists, a serious grasp of the French language is necessary for them to continue their work. Furthermore, the making of a film is a long and onerous project.

The residency aims to support those who had to flee their country to rebuild their professional life freely, by providing them with tailored assistance throughout the making of a first artistic project in France.


The residency does not have a long term, social intent, but a professional and temporary one. Its normal duration is of one year, which can be renewed once depending on the project’s progress and with the agreement of its partners.

1 – Selection

The scouting of filmmakers endangered in their home countries is an upstream work through the association’s networks, its mentors, and other members of UDM21.

Then, UDM21’s legal experts assist as needed with the asylum request.

Finally, once asylum is granted, the beneficiaries’ selection is done in liaison with the partners and the Cité des Arts.

The first residents are two young Afghani actors, Marina Golgahari and Noor Azizi.

2 – Assistance

UDM21 voluntarily oversees the tailored assistance of the resident(s), in partnership with the General Delegation of International Relations of the Ville de Paris, which hosts at the Cité since 2011 a laureate ( awardee )of the ICORN network.

21 – Personal assistance

It entails:

  • Housing in a workshop/studio of 42 square meters, ideally located in front of the river Seine. The shared facilities of the Cité (auditorium, music studios, shared workshops) are at the residents’ disposal, as they host numerous activities. This creative and multicultural environment allows for a rupture with the isolation created by asylum.
  • A financial aid allowing to cover the fees of the Cité and other expenses.
  • Put the residents in relation with the various services dedicated to healthcare, social benefits, French classes, and any activities that favor insertion. They benefit from a referent social worker at the Mairie of the IVth arrondissement.

22 – Professional assistance

An artistic project is determined with each resident in accordance to his/her profile, experience and needs.

  • Access to a training course: depending of the various partnerships formed with schools or audiovisual centers, or through dedicated foundations.
  • Direct help for the project: The resident can be put in relation with professionals in his field, helped with translation, or welcomed to participate in festivals or writing workshops.


The first residency was started thanks to the support of the Ville de Paris (DDCT and DGRI) and of the CNC.

Several professional structures have also expressed an interest in the program: ARP for directors and producers, SACD for fiction authors, SCAM for documentary filmmakers, and ADAMI for actors.

To sustain and extend this action, we now seek the support of private foundations.