Salam Neighbor Sets Up Shop at a Syrian Refugee Camp

Categories:  Events    Film
Wednesday, October 26th, 2016 at 11:15 AM
Salam Neighbor Sets Up Shop at a Syrian Refugee Camp by Dan Schank

Wednesday, Nov. 2

To provide an intimate glimpse of day-to-day life in a Syrian refugee camp, filmmakers Zach Ingrasci and Chris Temple did something perfectly obvious but strangely unexpected – they moved in.

Their 2016 documentary Salam Neighbor (which means “hello neighbor”) takes us to the deserts of Jordan, where thousands of Syrians have resettled at a place called Za’atari. Since the UN had never allowed a film crew to settle down in a camp like this before, there were plenty of logistics to work out. But Temple and Ingrasci – whose previous film found them trying to survive on a dollar a day in Guatemala – soon learned to hang out, share tea, and play cards with their neighbors.

In an election year marked by plenty of chest-thumping about the potential dangers of displaced people, Salam Neighbor offers a timely breath of fresh air.

They decided to focus their efforts on five refugees whose lives were disrupted by the five-year conflict in their homeland – a 10-year-old boy suffering from PTSD, a grieving grandmother, a 30-something relief worker, a nurse, and an aspiring French teacher. As it shares their stories, the film also pulls back a bit to assess the scale of the crisis – approximately 1.4 million Syrians had fled to Jordan at the time it was filmed.

The Syrian civil war is a thorny and complicated affair, with plenty of competing regional adversaries. And the American media has done a pretty poor job of providing context, let alone a sense of the human scale of the conflict. In an election year marked by plenty of chest-thumping about the potential dangers of displaced people, Salam Neighbor offers a timely breath of fresh air. – Dan Schank

7 p.m., with panel discussion moderated by the Reader’s Ben Speggen (Program Director at The Jefferson Educational Society), with Dylanna Jackson (Director of the International Institute of Erie), and 
Bassam Dabbah (Syrian Interpreter at the Institute) // Erie Art Museum, 20 E. Fifth St. // erieartmuseum.org/events/film.html

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