Jordan, Syria
#BarakabilityThe ArtsTV, Film & Online Video

Home Sweet Tent: Why An L.A. Film Crew Moved To Zaatari

Tea in Zaatari
Photo Credit: Living On One
Kids in Zaatari
Photo Credit: Living On One
Zaatari kids
Photo Credit: Living On One
Zaatari kids
Photo Credit: Living On One
Child Cameraman
Photo Credit: Living On One

Syrian hospitality, it turns out, is truly indestructible—and putting up a tent gets easier with practice. So a few brave filmmakers found out when they decided to test the logic of globalization by extending it to refugees.

“Salam Neighbor”, the documentary co-produced by L.A.-based collective Living On One and 1001 MEDIA, tells the stories of the Syrians next door: an accountant, a university student, and a family that once owned a furniture store.

Only for them, the “door” is in a tent, and the bread these neighbors share is some of the half a million pitas distributed every day in Jordan’s Zaatari Refugee Camp, now home to over 100,000 Syrians.

Some of what startles the American crew—starting with the warm welcome they receive–wouldn’t surprise those familiar with Arab culture. But their month-long stay allows them to access sides of refugee life never portrayed in mainstream news.

There are public aspirations–the fountains and gardens residents have built to try to make the sands a home–and very private griefs, such as the writing one mother covers the inside of her caravan with to mourn her dead son. Thanks to the International Rescue Committee, one of Zaatari’s 40-plus NGOs, this woman received counseling and eventually became a counselor herself, making it “her life mission to rescue women in her own situation from their isolation.”

Her story highlights the fact that, as director Zach Ingrasci says, “a refugee camp is not and should not be a storage facility for people. A refugee deserves the same rights as any person: to have choice, to be treated with respect, and to be supported by their global neighbors in this unexpected time of need.”

For more info – Living On One’s Website and Funding Campaign


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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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