Refugee Festival Scotland: Through Our Eyes


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As the 2018 Refugee Festival Scotland came into its final days of performances and events, BAFTA award winning director Samir Mehanovic joined viewers in the Glasgow Film Theatre for the screening of his new feature-length documentary, Through Our Eyes

A Refugee himself, Samir provides an insightful, fresh and personal account of the events and human suffering currently being experienced by many in the Syrian conflict. Filmed over an extended period of time, as a viewer you are guided and somewhat educated in regard to the experiences of Syrian families at different stages of their journeys, through their own eyes, away from the continuing conflict.

The documentary not only gives a voice to those who are featured but asks a question of those viewing: does humanity ever learn from its past experiences and what can be done to prevent the entirely senseless violence and suffering of millions of people. The documentary is made ever more emotional and relatable when coupled with Samir’s own experience of the Srebrenica genocide in the 1990s.   

The documentary comes across as a powerful testimony from someone who knows what it is like to arrive in a new place without money or friends, something which is discussed by the families in the film. The footage is far from ‘news’ like and while beautifully produced and edited it maintains a photojournalistic, raw quality that is far removed from the mass-produced news reels and articles that we are used to seeing. While the documentary focuses very much on the ongoing crisis in Syria it also highlights the historically more far reaching issue of forced displacement and the need to flee persecution or conflict.

While it was a great experience having the opportunity to view the film alongside its director, the Q+A that followed allowed for further discussion relating to the issues that had been raised. The audience in this instance was made up of a range of different people from lots of different backgrounds, including a Syrian gentleman who shared his own experiences and current situation that only added to the content that was seen in the film. 

One quote from the documentary that stuck with me was: “We have been labelled as Refugees, but once humanity embraces itself there won’t be any Refugees”. This quote sums up ultimately what the film was aiming to portray and mirrors the vision of the Scottish Refugee Council in that everybody should have their human rights and dignity respected and have the opportunity to achieve their full potential.

Director Samir Mehanovic, UK 2018, 1h10m, N/C 12+ - Saturday 23 June 12:45 

Scott Alderman
Scottish Refugee Council Volunteer


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