Fifteen year-old Naka is an anomaly. An honor student in the northern Israeli town of Nahariya, she glides through Hebrew, English and Arabic fluently, sings in a band, spends too much time on Facebook, and dreams of attending the army high school in preparation for military service. But she is not Israeli. She came on foot through Egypt with her family six years ago, a refugee from southern Sudan fleeing the largest genocide since the Holocaust. In 60 days, she faces deportation.
FOR YOU WERE ONCE STRANGERS is the untold story of a fracture, a rift within Israeli society as it tries to come to terms with a deportation order targeting 700 South Sudanese refugees. It is the story of a spark igniting a deeply polarizing issue that has been ignored for too long: how to handle the first massive wave of illegal immigrants the young country has ever confronted. Over 65,000 Africans have flooded across the border since 2008. For some Israelis, they see the mirror of their own history as refugees reflected back at them. For others, they see only a threat to the survival of the Jewish State.
The story unfolds through the deeply personal lens of three South Sudanese families and their community who fight the deportation back to their devastated, war-torn country. Israeli citizens from all sides are stirred to passionate debate, urgent action and increasingly violent protests. It becomes a struggle to define who they want to be both as individuals and a Nation. The film not only reveals intriguing facets of an Israel that very few have ever seen, it culminates in a troubling dilemma: Can Israel hold on to its identity as a democracy for the Jews and also maintain its humanity towards the “Other"?