As human beings… The movie “Simple as Water” infiltrates the journeys of Syrian refugees with impartiality and pain
The film does not allow reporting shots with a documentary purpose to overshadow the effectiveness of the narration
Day after day, the issue of humanitarian asylum is becoming one of the most pressing contemporary global issues at the political and humanitarian levels. It has become the largest part of the attention and discourse of most political parties in many European and Middle Eastern countries, while the number of refugees and their suffering continues to increase.
But the issues of these refugees are often addressed as figures, political pressure cards, or a negative political and societal phenomenon that must be curbed, while the movie “Simple as Water” – by Academy Award-winning director Megan Milan – succeeds in shedding light on the The human side of refugee life and an explanation of the unique complexities of each individual or family case.
A simple as water movie, produced by HBO, follows the stories of 4 Syrian families over a period of 5 years in 5 countries. Turkey, Greece, Germany, the United States of America, and Syria; Through it, he monitors the most prominent obstacles facing these families and accompanies them on their journey to adapt or search for security and stability.
Mothers in the wind
At the beginning of the film, we see Yasmine (a mother and a displaced Syrian) doing routine work alongside her children in one of the hundreds of tents lined up along the shipyard in the Greek capital, Athens, as she anxiously awaits approval to be reunited with her husband Safwan in Germany.
A counselor at the immigration center tells Yasmine that her family reunification papers can take up to 10 months; Which leads her to say indignantly, “I will only go back to Syria,” which she will not return, of course, but it sums up the feelings of thousands of refugees about the strict bureaucracy in European asylum countries, and the damage it may cause to those families who live in harsh conditions in poor countries.
Yasmine’s story can be considered an optimistic beginning for director Megan Milan, compared to the story of Samra (mother of 5) who works in Turkey full time to support her children. Her husband was arrested by the regime forces and she and her children fled to Turkey in search of a more stable and safe environment.
Samra is trying to get her children into an orphanage so she can work, but the eldest child, Fayez, 12 – who is looking after his siblings – does not seem to want to, and says, “I want to be their father; I don’t want them to feel that they have lost their father, so I can manage.” order them.” Fayez, like many Syrian children, lost his sense of childhood and the need to play at the expense of the early responsibility imposed on him by the consequences of the war in his country.
“I think of Simple as Water as a family love story that celebrates the primal bonds between parents and their children,” Megan Milan says of her film, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.
This is evident in the film, as one of his stories is not without intimate scenes between mothers and their children or between brothers and brothers, fathers and their children, including scenes of sadness and waiting that are characterized by much love, care and struggle.
Challenges of heroes and filmmakers
The film takes us from Turkey to the United States to watch Omar (a Syrian immigrant and a delivery driver in Pennsylvania) trying to assimilate into American culture, but soon receives bad news about his refugee status due to his previous associations with the Free Army, a Syrian faction of the revolution.
Omar fears his deportation, but he fears more for his brother, who lost a limb after being injured in a missile attack on his area in Syria, and together they are trying to adapt to a new life in the United States and solve the obstacles for their asylum.
In the fourth part of the film, we move to Syria, where two Syrian girls cooperating with pseudonyms succeeded in recording the story of Diaa, a mother who lost her son Muhammad 5 years ago and is still searching for him.
The story reflects the mother’s insistence when it comes to her son’s life, and it is a new chapter in the tragedy of Syrian mothers who lost their sons to death, kidnapping or disappearance. ranks of the Islamic State.
“For my son’s sake, I may go to the end of the world,” says Diaa, and for the sake of her other son, who shares her residence, she stays at home, sympathizes with him and helps him to adapt to his disability without losing hope of her absent son’s return.
The recording of this story was not without obstacles and difficulties. Milan did not try to involve herself and her crew in the adventure of going for filming inside Syria, yet she did not abandon the idea; Where this story was recorded by hidden camera equipment with equipment hidden in toys and diapers, the two Syrian girls who participated in the work were directed via Skype and WhatsApp.
The circle closes at the end of the film, as we return to the story of Yasmine, whose husband finally succeeded in reuniting her, and this time we see her, her children, and the father in Germany. The narration focuses on the happy father with the arrival of his children through intimate footage that records moments that no family can forget, hence the general significance Which Megan Milan wanted to show through her four stories; It is the presence of light at the end of the dark tunnel, and the presence of hope.
Author and film critic Ryan Latanzio sees the strength of Simple As Water “in its political impartiality, its lack of public comment on the global refugee crisis, as there is no indictment of Syrian individuals on either side. Instead, its director had a level of deep and intimate access.” And the familiarity few filmmakers can hope to achieve.”
According to Latanzio, in Simple as Water, “Sacrifice and hope are intertwined in a neatly assembled and composed painting that shows endurance of family devotion under harsh conditions; where a mother’s love for her children replaces her own well-being, fraternal devotion requires the pursuit of greatness, and reunion patiently rewards a father with his loved ones.”
Although the film “Simple as Water” is a documentary that primarily seeks to document the lives of these families and shed light on their suffering, it does not allow the report clips with a documentary purpose to overshadow the effectiveness of the narration and its role in highlighting the characters and their stories and urging the viewer to sympathize with them, and view them as human beings, away From the traditional view that the media and various parties try to portray refugees as a crisis and figures.