Twice Upon a Time

Behind the splash of headlines about the Syrian conflict, Khalil (Syrian, age 12) and Niam (Lebanese, age 32) share a rare friendship. Caught between countries, the film carefully focuses on the lives of one woman and one boy in a small village near the Lebanon/Syria border. Filmmaker and former refugee, Niam takes us through the prism of splintered memories and animated ‘re-imaginings’ of the past, to witness a young life currently caught today between countries.

Les Sauteurs (Those Who Jump)

From Africa, Abou watches the fence and imagines a future in Europe ahead of him. For over a year, he and thousands of other migrants have attempted to jump the enormous fence system that separates Morocco from a tiny land spit of Spain. Beyond this enclave Melilla spreads the Mediterranean towards Spanish mainland. Behind the camera, Abou portrays the struggle for dignity and freedom on the militarized frontier.

50 Feet From Syria (2016 Audience Award Winner)

SDFF 2016 Audience Award: Short Documentary

“50 Feet From Syria” is a portrait of Syrian-American surgeon Hisham Bismar, performing intricate acts of medical necessity undeterred by the chaos and complexity of war around him. The atrocities of war and civil unrest that have plagued Syria are writ large on the bodies of the victims he treats. Through it all, Bismar perseveres. Director Fitzgerald’s film serves as a snapshot in time for the current plight of Syrian refugees.

Waves of Childhood

For three months in 2015, a group of Syrian girls living in the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan participated in a media workshop designed to empower them to tell their own stories and those of the surrounding community. Given cameras and encouragement, these young women set out and created the seven short films depicting their experience and reality. The resulting work is named “Waves of Childhood” by one of the girls of the group.

One, If by Land

“One, If by Land” is an experimental short film that explores undocumented immigration to the global North via land, sea and air. Inspired by three stories of real voyages made from Mexico, China and Mozambique, this film looks at the difficulties of the immigrant journey. Director Nandini Sikand’s use of grim but evocative imagery, raises questions as to why the difficulty of migration should exist in the first place.

In English, Spanish and Portuguese with English subtitles


A Nation Without a Homeland

Mohamed is a child refugee from Syria; he has no recollection of his family or his life before he reached Baghdad. In an attempt to reunite Mohamed with his family, filmmaker Warith Kwaish embarks on a journey, searching the refugee camps along the Iraqi-Syrian Border, desperately seeking leads as to their whereabouts. The result is bittersweet, revealing the scale of the humanitarian drama still unfolding in the region.

In Arabic with English subtitles

Part of our “Portraits of Resilience” special program.

Madina’s Dream

This hard-hitting inside look at the ongoing conflict in South Sudan presents a close-up view of everyday wartime life in the Nuba Mountains. The film is shot both in the refugee camp where women and their starving children, such as Madina, have fled, and village life under a siege in which Nuba men are daily forced to defend themselves against attacks from Sudanese troops. Their personal stories, told alongside skirmishes and bombings, create a riveting commentary of the effects of war on civilians.

District Zero (2016 Programmers' Award Winner)

SDFF 2016 Programmers' Award: Feature Documentary

Maamun opens the door to his shop, like he does every morning. It is a tiny white container in one of the biggest refugee camps in the world: Za’atari, in Jordan, where many Syrians have escaped from the war. In his shop, Maamun repairs his clients’ phones, whose memory cards contain their past life in Syria. He decides to provide a new service: printing these photos from the phones of the refugees who live in Za’atari.