“The city remains in our hearts, our soul, our consciousness….”
One of the many poignant lines from the moving documentary Faraway… So Close to Homeland, which premiered in 2016 as part of the New Beginnings Refugee Arts & Culture festival.
Made by executive producer and documentary film maker Maher Jamous, Faraway… So Close to the Homeland follows the lives of 10 Syrians who are forced to leave their homeland, and seek refuge in the neighbouring countries of Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey.
Mr Jamous, himself one of the many thousands who fled the bombing and threat of arrest in Syria, is now living safely in Sydney with his family and says he has many stories to share of Syrians who have experienced the same situation.
Threatened with arrest due to his films about the about the revolution in Syria and the current regime, Mr Jamous fled to Turkey with his mother, wife and three children.
“There is a saying in Syria that the only safe place to open your mouth is at the dentist,” said Mr Jamous.
“Because there are no foreign journalists in Syria, no-one is seeing what is really happening; the truth.”
The 10 people featured in the documentary include journalists, artists, a human rights activist, housewife, and university lecturer.
Despite their diverse social, cultural and professional backgrounds, and the threats and unsafety they have had to escape, the overwhelming theme of the film is one of hope and longing to return to the country they love and to help return it to its former beauty.
Tragically, one of the journalists featured in the film was assassinated just one day before he was due to move to France, where he had been granted a humanitarian visa.
“The sanctity of humanity is the ultimate message in my movies,” said Mr Jamous.
“I focus on producing documentaries about Syrian people, their struggle for freedom and salvation-injustice may win the battle but not the war.”
See the works of other newly arrived refugee filmmakers at the New Beginnings: Refugee Arts & Culture Festival 2017. The festival will hold a number of events during Refugee Week from June 21 to 29, including Sydney Stories – a night of film showcasing shorts created by newly arrived refugees. Click here for more information.