Creative Partnership

A Broken House

Award-winning documentary short profiles Syrian artist and architect Mohamad Hafez as he recreates the home he left behind
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In a new award-winning documentary short, filmmaker Jimmy Goldblum profiles artist and architect Mohamad Hafez, a Syrian refugee who turns to sculpting life-like miniatures of Damascus to recreate the home he was forced to leave behind. A Broken House is a story of love, loss, and creating pathways home. The film, as well as a special recent conversation with Jimmy, Mohamad, and Mayra Jimenez, RAICES Chief Programs Officer, moderated by Faisal Al-Juburi, RAICES Associate Vice President of Philanthropy, are available for you to watch here:


When Mohamad Hafez received a single-entry visa to study architecture in the United States, he realized if he couldn’t return home to Syria, he could make home. A skilled architectural model-maker, he spent his years in exile sculpting life-like renditions of his Damascus neighborhood. When the civil war broke out and his parents fled to the United States as refugees, Mohamad’s bottled-up frustration erupted on his models. In a fit of mania, he broke his artworks, leaving them shattered, bombed-out replicas of the Syrian buildings he saw on the news. And yet, when word of his broken pieces spread, Mohamad became an inspiration to refugees and immigrants in the diaspora who dreamed of homes that only existed in memories. A Broken House is a film about loss and love, responsibility and identity – about homesickness for the places to which we can no longer return.

​​WINNER: Palm Springs International ShortsFest | Audience Award for Best Documentary Short
WINNER: Palm Springs International ShortsFest | Mozaik “Bridging the Borders” Award
WINNER: Flickers’ Rhode Island International Film Festival | Jury Award for Best Editing
WINNER: RiverRun Film Festival | Jury Award for Best Documentary Short
WINNER: Salem Film Festival | Jury Award for Best Documentary Short
WINNER: SCAD Savannah Film Festival | Best Documentary Short
NOMINEE: Cinema Eye Honors 2022 – Outstanding Nonfiction Short
NOMINEE: IDA Documentary Awards 2021 – Best Documentary Short
SHORTLISTED: DOC NYC Short List 2021 – Shorts Selection

A Broken House


Jimmy Goldblum (Director and Producer) is an Emmy Award-winning director and Executive Producer based in Los Angeles, CA. Jimmy directs the critically acclaimed documentary series, Chef’s Table for Netflix (IDA Winner – “Best Documentary Series”) and HOME for Apple+. Jimmy recently directed the pilot and set the look of Unsolved Mysteries, the reimagining of the 80s cult series; it’s produced by 21 Laps (“Stranger Things”) and is the first non-fiction series for Netflix Studios. Unsolved spent its first 10 days on Netflix as the most watched series in the world. Previously, Jimmy directed and produced Tomorrow We Disappear, a feature documentary about India’s last colony of magicians, acrobats, and puppeteers. It premiered in competition at the Tribeca Film Festival, and IndieWire listed it as one of the “20 Best Documentaries of 2014.” Jimmy’s interactive documentary for the Pulitzer Center, Live Hope Love, a poetic exploration of the HIV crisis in the Caribbean, won an Emmy for “New Approaches to Documentary” and a Webby for “Best Art Website.”

A Syrian-American artist and architect, Mohamad Hafez was born in Damascus, raised in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and educated in the Midwestern United States. Expressing the juxtaposition of East and West within him, Hafez’s art reflects the political turmoil in the Middle East through the compilation of found objects, paint and scrap metal. Using his architectural skills, Hafez creates surrealistic Middle Eastern streetscapes that are architectural in their appearance yet politically charged in their content. Responding to the atrocities of the Syrian war, Hafez’s recent work depicts cities besieged by the civil war to capture the magnitude of the devastation and to expose the fragility of human life. However, in contrast to the violence of war, his art imbues a subtle hopefulness through its deliberate incorporation of verses from the Holy Quran. At the core of Hafez’s work, the verses offer a distinct contrast between the stark pessimistic reality of destruction and the optimistic hope for a bright future. Scenes reiterate narratives from the Qur’an to affirm that, even during the darkest of times, patience is necessary for the blossoming of life and that, eventually, justice will prevail.

His artwork has recently been featured in several highly acclaimed exhibitions and profiled on National Public Radio, The New York Times, The Guardian, and The New Yorker. Hafez is the recipient of a 2018 Connecticut Arts Hero Award for his extensive and continuous body of work on issues such as the Syrian civil war, the worldwide refugee crisis, and an overall desire to counter hate speech. He currently serves as a 2018 Yale University Silliman College Fellow, Interpreter in Residence at U-Chicago Oriental Institute, and artist-in-residence at the Keller Center of Harris School of Public Policy, University of Chicago. In 2019, he was selected as one of the 40 under 40 artists in the Middle East by London’s Apollo Magazine.

Mayra Jimenez was appointed to the position of Chief Programs Officer at RAICES following a distinguished tenure as Vice President of Legal Services, including affirmative, defensive, and litigation work within Immigration Law. She was formerly the Children’s Program Director at RAICES, running the organization’s largest legal program encompassing legal services for both detained and released unaccompanied children throughout Texas. She has represented children and adults before the Immigration Court, various local county courts, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO).

Mayra received her juris doctorate from St. Mary’s University Law School and attended Baylor University for her undergraduate studies in Business Administration in Economics and International Business. Prior to joining RAICES, she clerked at Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid and Bexar County Courthouse, specializing in family and property law.

Mayra attributes her passion for human rights to her familial roots and professional experience. She is the daughter of immigrants and advocates for justice as an inherent human right that should be awarded to everyone regardless of age, religion, country of origin, sexual orientation, or ability to pay for legal counsel.


Faisal Al-Juburi has served the not-for-profit sector for 15 years, strategically positioning institutional ventures for dynamic public and private partnerships that facilitate lasting social impact. His credits prior to leading the philanthropy team at RAICES include repositioning the intercultural relations not-for-profit Bridges of Understanding and negotiating its merger into Soliya, a pioneer in transnational Virtual Exchange education; heading the public health and environmental initiative MillionTreesNYC, launched by Bette Midler and Michael R. Bloomberg during his tenure as mayor; serving as a corporate relations specialist at the Kennedy Center, where he advised on “Arabesque: Arts of the Arab World” and leveraged special events for expansive sponsorships and integrated marketing deals; and working with ExxonMobil at Ford’s Theatre to lay the foundation for “The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Campaign,” a $60 million effort that reinvented the historic site as an education and leadership campus. Standing at the intersection of art and administration, Faisal has also executive produced myriad experiential tributes in honor of trailblazing global citizens and creative-directed the 70th anniversary celebration of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific, featuring Grammy Award-winning opera star Isabel Leonard and Pulitzer Prize-winning migrant justice activist Jose Antonio Vargas. He earned an MS in Communication from New York University (NYU) and a BA in History from the University of Virginia (UVA). A first generation Iraqi American, Faisal currently resides in Manhattan, where he leads the Board of Directors for Rosie’s Theater Kids alongside the organization’s namesake Rosie’ O’Donnell.