why you need to watch 'refuge,' a film that documents the plight of refugees in syria

This heart-wrenching film gives a voice to just a handful of the millions displaced due to ongoing conflict.

by Lynette Nylander
16 December 2016, 3:36pm

This year hasn't been easy, in fact it's hit pretty damn hard. We have had political shockers, beloved entertainers and cultural icons have passed away in their droves. But if you're reading this, chances are you have a home, you have light, heat, a bed, and certain amount of security that makes your life bearable. Sadly this isn't the case for the people of Syria, whose ongoing suffering has created the biggest European refugee crisis since the Second World War. This doesn't go forgotten. #pray4aleppo has been a constant sight in our Twitter feeds and Facebook timelines as people express their sorrow and disgust at what's currently happening in the rebel-held Syrian city and marches around the world are being organized to protest the devastation.

While many want to help, not a lot of people know how; and conflicting news stories make it difficult to separate fact from fiction. Endeavoring to put "the human struggle" at the forefront of the conflict, the team behind Refuge, a 20-minute short film that chronicles the stories of 12 refugees (out of dozens who were interviewed, from everywhere from the Congo to Iraq). The film is centered on the refugees' perspective, giving them a voice. They discuss what they miss about their homelands, how their worlds have been ripped apart by the devastation, and how they envisage their futures.

The film was made in January of this year, in Greece, where tens of thousands of refugees are now stranded. Each refugee was asked the simple questions, "Who are you?,' "Where are you coming from?," and "Where do you plan to go?"

"The stories that unfurled were excruciating and at times unfathomable," comments one of makers of the film, Maximilian Guen. "You know, people think we were over dramatizing the events, but this is what people are really going through." Guen and the rest of the Refuge team decided to combat this by being completely transparent, releasing all the testimonials in full online so people can know the refugees' complete stories. After aligning with numerous charities and holding private screenings in London (at BAFTA), New York (at FIAF), LA (at Anonymous Content), and Paris (at MK2), the film, which you can watch below, has now been released on Vimeo.

It's a challenging watch but as Max comments, "the most important thing is to spread the word. People are dying every single day in their thousands. We need to keep the discussion going as it is not over yet. Not even close."

To watch the full testimonials, read more about "Refuge," and find links to charities where you can donate, please visit refugeproject.co.


Text Lynette Nylander
Photography Elliot Ross