Neon Zoo | I Had Nothing

Neon Zoo

To protect the woman she loves, V is forced to flee her homeland of Congo. She embarks on the dangerous journey to the U.S., only to be cruelly stripped of the few belongings that she carries. When immigration officials from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) apprehend migrants exercising their right to seek refuge, they often trash their belongings or confiscate and fail to return them. Finding safety shouldn’t come at the cost of losing everything.

The goal of this particular film was to shed light on a very specific issue happening at the U.S. border—property confiscation. During pre-production, we spoke with countless individuals about their experiences seeking asylum. Unfortunately their stories aren’t uncommon—many people face injustices at the southern border. What drew us to V was that while her story has elements of pain and tragedy, it also has moments of joy and love. Her love story is what anchors the film, because love is something we all can relate to. Grounding advocacy work in personal narratives helps humanize the issues, and has become a cornerstone of my work and the stories Neon Zoo is passionate about sharing.

V’s story is just one of many.


Client: ACLU Arizona
Production: Neon Zoo
Director: Elyse Kelly
Producer: Molly Kaplan

⁠Art director: Naghmeh Farzaneh
Storyboard artists: Danny Aviles⁠, Darren Enterline⁠
Designers: Anna Bron, Hannah McNally ⁠
⁠Field producer: Nicholas Mihm
Editor: Dan Fipphen

Animators: Joumana Ismail, Eric Larson, Sabine Volkert
Cleanup lead / Assistant animator: Laura Nasir-Tamara
Cleanup / Assistant animator: Hannah O’Brien

Composers: Brooke Blair & Will Blair
Sound designer & mixer: Chris Mastellone
French translator: Jacqueline Smith⁠
Spanish translator: Angela Meléndez
Infield interpreters: Guerline Jozef, Jeef Nelson⁠


All platforms: @weareneonzoo (studio)
IG: @e.l.y.s.e.k.e.l.l.y (director)