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.”