When she was growing up in a tiny village high in the mountains of Guatemala, a young girl named EL- who can only use her initials beause of the risk to her family- never imagined leaving. But when her mother got up the strength to flee a violent home, she was thrust into a journey that would forever change her. After a smuggler separated mother and daughter, E’s life honed to a single goal—surviving so she could find her mother again.

This intimate look at one immigrant’s journey reveals a key truth behind the immigration debates: E, like so many immigrants, just wants a home where she can be safe.


Directed and Produced by Amy Bench

Executive Producer: Eloise DeJoria

Producers: Carolyn Merriman, Jessica Goudeau, Constance Dykhuizen

Animation: Steve West, Thomas Kilburn

Composer: Curtis Glenn Heath

Editor: Monica Santis

Sound Designer: Eric Friend


Amy Bench is a filmmaker and visual artist who is drawn to the immediacy of film and photography to tell stories of community and resilience. Trained as a cinematographer, her observational style highlights small details of the human experience that transcend formal explanation. Her camera work has screened at festivals including Berlin, SXSW, Sundance, The New York Film Festival, and at MOMA/PS1 and in 2016 she was named a “DP on the Rise” by Paste Magazine. Amy is a member of the multidisciplinary artist collective ICOSA, an artist-run gallery space that showcases a diverse range of contemporary art and programming.


Carolyn Merriman is the Executive Producer at the Future of StoryTelling (FoST) and a curator interested in the intersection of art, technology and storytelling. As a producer she works across media, including documentary films, animations, apps and other interactive experiences. She was an Associate Producer on The Unforeseen, a documentary Executive Produced by Terrence Malick and Robert Redford and directed by Laura Dunn.


Jessica Goudeau is the author of AFTER THE LAST BORDER (forthcoming, Viking 2020), a narrative nonfiction book about refugee resettlement in the US. She has written for The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Teen Vogue, The Los Angeles Times, and other places. She has a PhD in Poetry and Translation Studies from the University of Texas. In most of her writing, she partners with displaced people to tell their stories with dignity while protecting their identities.


Constance Dykhuizen has a Master's in Public Affairs from the LBJ School at the University of Texas. Based in Thailand and Texas, she travels everywhere in between consulting with storytellers, artists and social impact organizations to increase attention and resources for migrant and marginalized people. She is also the executive director of JP's Peace, Love & Happiness Foundation.


Steve West is the director and founder of Lazy Chief, a creative design studio specializing in animation, based in Soho, London. Agile, adaptable and constantly evolving, Lazy Chief has delivered projects that inform and excite for Google, The Science Museum, Facebook, FoST, Microsoft, Electronic Arts, The BBC, Universal Music, and MacMillan Cancer Support.


Curtis is a composer from Fort Worth, Texas. He began playing music as a child when his great-grandfather taught him to play the musical saw. He has scored and composed original music for dozens of productions, including Ain't Them Bodies Saints, Hellion, Earthling, Slash, and 1985.


Monica Santis is an editor/director with a master’s degree in International Affairs from George Washington University, and is a graduate of the London Film School. In addition to writing and directing her own films, she has worked as the Director of Outreach for the Austin School of Film, where she helped develop the Cine Joven bilingual youth film program and worked as a producer for the NAMAC and SXSW Youth MAFIA Film Festivals. Her award-winning work has been screened at film festivals across North America and Europe. 


Eric Friend has worked as a sound designer, engineer, and composer for the past twenty five years. Eric learned filmmaking from his father as a child in Michigan. He moved to Austin, Texas to attend the University of Texas Radio/ Television/ Film program, and worked for Richard Linklater and Mike Judge for over a decade before opening his own sound studio.


Eloise DeJoria is a model, actress, producer and supporter of the arts. Through her entrepreneurial endeavors and platform, Eloise encourages people to live healthy, whole lives. With her family foundation JP's Peace, Love & Happiness Foundation based in Austin, Texas, she supports recovery, arts and film projects, particularly those that support the voices of young storytellers.




  • Special Jury Recognition, SXSW
  • Best Documentary Short, Oak Cliff Film Festival
  • Best Animated Short, BendFilm
  • Honorable Mention, IndieGrits Film Festival



  • SXSW
  • IndieGrits
  • Chicago Critics Film Festival
  • Seattle Film Festival
  • deadCenter Film Festival
  • Oak Cliff Film Festival
  • Walla Walla Movie Crush
  • HollyShorts
  • Sidewalk Film Festival
  • BendFilm
  • Hot Springs Film Festival
  • Milwaukee Film Festival
  • El Paso Film Festival


“An emotional short rendered in rich pastel-inspired animation… A Line Birds Cannot See dives into the challenges children face before they reach U.S. soil.”

Mercedes Milligan, Animation Magazine

“Award-winning short film, A Line Birds Cannot See, brings an intimate and devastating story to the US immigration debate,” depicting “a lonely and harrowing journey.”

James Prestridge, Close Up Culture

“Despite the beauty of its animation the short film takes the audience through a journey of what the worst of humanity is capable of doing.”

Joel Fisher, Battle Royale with Cheese

“Stunning…. Filmmaker Amy Bench’s animated film opens your eyes, breaks your heart, and ultimately touches audiences with its true story of a 12-year-old immigrant girl’s journey from an abusive home in an impoverished village in Guatemala, to her current status as a DACA work visa holder in the U.S.”

Joleen Jurnigan, The Austinot

“A harrowing true tale of lost innocence… A snapshot of why migration should be treated empathetically, not statistically. E.L has laid bare her story so we can confront our own faults, with Bench telling it wonderfully.”

Tom Hitchenor, Miro Magazine

“Visually stunning, emotional and immensely relevant short film….immensely authentic… a must see.”

 “A crucial, contemporary and necessary story “

Liselotte Vanophem, Just Celebrity Magazine