The individuals behind the statistics are profiled in a documentary about Syrian refugees trying to rebuild their lives in Lebanon
The Syrian civil war is always there in the news to varying degrees, depending where you look. And yet, tragically, due partly to Islamophobia and compassion fatigue, the real people behind the statistics about refugees remain too often nameless and undifferentiated. This deftly assembled, empathic but measured documentary by co-directing sisters Sophia and Georgia Scott forms a corrective as it profiles four Syrian refugees living in Lebanon. Community leader Sheikh Abdo lives in a refugee camp by the border and pours his energy into running a school for the displaced kids, although his good work is hampered by being constantly arrested by the Lebanese authorities. One of his volunteer teachers is Nemr, barely out of his teens himself, a bright young man who understands the risk that the next generation will just become mindless soldiers for Isis if they’re not educated. Up the road in Beirut, hirsute artist Mwafak ekes out a living with no legitimate papers and weighs his extremely limited options. Meanwhile, dynamic Reem, a trained architect, does what she can to organise civic self-help programmes in Shatila, once the site of a massacre (depicted in docu-cartoon Waltz With Bashir) and now a hellish, fast-developing ghetto for a new generation of refugees. The film might have been improved by slightly less mawkish music and not resorting to literal-minded shots of pigeons taking flight while a voiceover discusses those who flee, but otherwise this is a moving, galvanising work that tackles this horrific humanitarian crisis with a fresh eye and ear.