Alumna’s film about Syrian refugees wins Audience Award for Best Feature at SF DocFest

UC Santa Cruz alumna Bridgette Auger (SocDoc ’11)
UC Santa Cruz alumna Bridgette Auger (SocDoc ’11)

We Are Not Princesses, the first feature film by UC Santa Cruz alumna Bridgette Auger (SocDoc ’11) was honored with the Audience Award for Best Feature at the 2019 San Francisco Documentary Film Festival.

This year’s festival was the highest attended event in the SF DocFest’s 18-year history, with over 10,000 attendees filling the Roxie and Brava theaters in the city for 16 days of non-fiction film.

Featuring 86 films in 87 screenings, it was additionally attended by 123 filmmakers, traveling from as far away as Shanghai and the United Kingdom.

Auger’s film is about four Syrian women, living as refugees in Beirut, Lebanon, who come together to tell their personal stories of love, loss, despair, and hope through exploration of the ancient Greek play, Antigone.

Auger directed and filmed the 75-minute documentary in collaboration with London-based Syrian filmmaker Itab Azzam. The film had its world premiere last November at DOC NYC, the largest documentary film festival in the United States.

We Are Not Princesses was inspired by an eight-week theater workshop titled “Antigone of Syria” that was put together by the Open Art Foundation for Syrian women refugees in Lebanon. It was designed to help the women find community, heal, and process their trauma as a result of the ongoing war in Syria.

Shot over three months in the autumn of 2014, the film uses intimate footage and animation to show how these resilient women are picking up the pieces of their lives and putting them back together—despite the seemingly endless tragic conditions back home in Syria.

An artist and filmmaker committed to using art for social change, Auger received her Master’s degree in Social Documentation from UC Santa Cruz in 2011. Prior to that, she earned a degree in photography and imaging from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

She lived in the Middle East for several years, covering the Arab Spring in Egypt and Libya, as well as the refugee crisis from the conflict in Syria, through photography and video. Her work has taken her to a variety of other countries, including Iraqi Kurdistan, Kashmir, Mongolia, and China.