At the center of “Uprooted” is Noris, a mother and community leader displaced in 1996. Conflict between armed actors over one of her sons, resulted in harassment and intimidation. When harassment turned to death threats, Noris gathered her children and fled. She now lives in the refugee shelter of Villa España on the outskirts of Quibdó, a growing city in the Pacific Coast.

Noris’ son, Jhojan, dreams of leaving the refugee shelter for a burgeoning soccer academy in the capital city of Bogotá, and Noris will do all she can to make his dream a reality. Noris strains to make it day by day—her only income the sale of cheese-sticks she makes early each morning. We bear witness to her anguish as she tries to come up with the money for Jhojan’s bus ticket while supporting her family, including her youngest son Roberto, who is deaf-mute, yet dreams of attending school.

Noris’s captivating story lends a human face to what is an often invisibilized and dehumanized population. 'The displaced' are portrayed as an uncomfortable consequence of the civil war, and a drain on resources. “Uprooted” acts as a counter-narrative to humanize internal refugees in Colombia, and across the world.

Above all else, this documentary is an intimate portrayal of the tragedy of uprooting; a beautifully detailed tale about struggle and resilience; a bittersweet story of loss, love, family, and dreams.

Her immediate plight is full of tension, still Noris is quick to make the connection between her present struggle and the broader, complex picture of forced displacement: the painful story of her uprooting and resettlement, and her continuing daily battle to pull her family through. 

The poignancy of Jhojan's ambition and to what means he'll go to achieve it, along with Roberto's mischievous charm and loneliness, add a level of beauty and honesty to their refugee narrative and show the audience exactly how much is at stake for Noris in her current plight.

“As long as Colombia is known only through flash-point headlines of drug cartels and guerilla groups, the poor and victimized members of its society remain invisible. Juan Mejia’s Uprooted exposes the plight of Afro-Colombians violently driven off their coastal lands and forced to subsist in shantytowns far from home. With immense tenderness and intimate attention, Mejia personalizes this history through the daily life of one brave woman caught in a politically and economically untenable situation.”

-B. Ruby Rich, Critic

"In Uprooted, Mejia creates a rare, engaged intimacy with his subjects, allowing the stories and lived experiences of Afro Colombians displaced by their nation's civil war to be heard with startling honesty. At the same time, he elegantly weaves in the complex social and political contexts that underpins their stories, creating an incisive and powerful investigation into what may be one of the most pressing issues facing the globe today - the plight of exiles, migrants and displaced peoples."

-Chi-hui Yang,

Programmer, Robert Flaherty Film Seminar

Director, San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival