Migratory Narratives: The Future World of the Refugee Camp

14.02.2016 - Puneet Kaur Ahira, Jessica Brillhart, Kilian Kleinschmidt, Alex McDowell, moderated by Juan DiazB

"World building" designates an iterative and collaborative narrative practice in which the deep understanding of a world precedes the telling of a story. Filmmakers and other storytellers can enter an interdisciplinary process that allows them to understand how to comprehend and build a world from its core elements. Addressing the complexities of refugee camps, humanitarian experts and guests with first-hand experiences jointly explore the multiplicity of human narratives that are interwoven into those worlds today and in the future.


Puneet Kaur Ahira

photo of Puneet Kaur Ahira
Special Advisor to Megan Smith, U.S. Chief Technology Officer and Assistant to President Obama. The scope of Puneet's role at the White House includes leveraging technology to counter violent extremism and expand opportunity for refugees and other marginalized communities. She started out as a portfolio analyst at Goldman Sachs and worked for and co-founded a number of non-profits and NGOs. Until recently she served as a Program Director at Google's Solve for X, an open moonshot platform to accelerate the progress of individuals and organizations working on breakthrough science and technology projects.

Jessica Brillhart

photo of Jessica Brillhart
US filmmaker and VR pioneer. She is the principal filmmaker for VR at Google. In 2009, she joined Google's Creative Lab where she spearheaded numerous award winning shorts and documentaries before joining the Cardboard team in 2015. Since directing, WORLD TOUR – the first VR film made with the Jump ecosystem – Brillhart has continued travelling the world, filming and experimenting, all in an effort to better understand and help inform others about this emergent medium.

Kilian Kleinschmidt

photo of Kilian Kleinschmidt
International networker, humanitarian and refugee expert. He is the founder and chairman of the Start-up Innovation and Planning Agency (IPA). He most recently managed the UNHCR refugee camp of Za'atari in Jordan, which has become a symbol for new and innovative approaches in refugee and humanitarian management under his leadership. Previous senior roles included Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Deputy Special Envoy for Assistance to Pakistan, Acting Director for Communities and Minorities in the UN administration in Kosovo, Executive Secretary for the Migration and Refugee Initiative (MARRI) in the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe and many field based functions with UNHCR, UNDP and WFP.

Alex McDowell

photo of Alex McDowell
Alex McDowell RDI is a narrative designer who works at the intersection of design, technology and storytelling. He is creative director at Experimental Design, employing multi-platform, cross-disciplinary world building to design change in real and future worlds. He is a professor of practice at the University of Southern California where he teaches world building as a 21st century design practice, and is director of the USC World Building Institute. With over 35 years of experience as a production designer, he has worked with directors such as David Fincher, Steven Spielberg, Tim Burton, Terry Gilliam, and Anthony Minghella.

Moderated by

Juan DiazB

photo of Juan DiazB

Juan DiazB is the European Director of the World Building Institute, a cutting-edge research unit at the University of Southern California focusing on the future of narrative media through world building. He is also the creative director of Kosmology, which develops film and transmedia projects in Europe and America, including TORPOR, a reflection on the water crisis, the multi-platform narrative ORIGEN and the transmedia format BUENAVENTURA MON AMOUR. He has been awarded as designer, director and writer.