Lebanon, Syria
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Spotlighting Survival

Syrian filmmaker Dareen J. Hasan discusses her first documentary, “Bread and Iron”, depicting the struggles of Syrian workers in Lebanon. Screened at numerous festivals and nominated for Best Director and Best Documentary at the AOF Festival, it will soon show at Seattle’s Chagrin Festival.

What was…

 …your inspiration?

It started when I had to live in Lebanon, in Ashrafieh, where I witnessed every day how Syrian workers suffer. Beaten by the authorities, not getting paid, living in shacks, missing home. Hundreds of thousands of Syrian workers in Lebanon have lived like that for decades, with virtually no attention from society.

It’s a human rights issue, and has become bigger now. As war broke out in Syria, the number of Syrian workers started increasing. Now that their home cities had become war-zones, they were really trapped. But since the media’s main focus went to refugees, the situation of Syrian workers became more invisible. I felt the need to document their plight.

…one scene that stays with you?

When the old man insists on sharing his only food that he brought for the whole day: it shows how much [workers] want to be accepted and recognized by others, and to prove that poverty didn’t change their habit of sharing in that big individualistic, capitalist world.

For more info – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARytsL_s_Bg

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Jennifer MacKenzie

Poet, writer and teacher Jennifer MacKenzie grew up on Bloomcrest Dr. in Bloomfield Hills, MI, which inspired her to wonder about places with patterns other than floral. Following her education at Wesleyan University's College of Letters and the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop, she followed a zig-zag course that included a pilgrimage across the top of Spain and a long sojourn in Syria in pursuit of the language of Muhammad al-Maghout and Moudthaffar al-Nawwab. While in Damascus she completed the books of poems "Distant City" and "My Not-My Soldier" (forthcoming from Fence Books) and edited the magazine Syria Today. Her poems and essays can be found in numerous journals including the Kenyon Review online, Guernica, Quarterly West, and Lungfull. She currently lives in New York.

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