By Mohab Khattab and Salam Darwaza, producers.
2016, www.livingonone.org and 1001 Media.
Reviewed by Richard Doughty on April 5, 2016
This is the best film to date to begin to understand daily lives, thoughts and feelings among people fleeing war in Syria. American filmmakers Chris Temple and Zach Ingrasci, producers of the award-winning Living on One Dollar YouTube series, teamed up with 1001 Media and interpreter Ibraheem Shaheen to set up a tent for a month in Za’atari, the largest refugee camp established by the UN, in northern Jordan. They quickly learned that for security reasons they could not overnight there, but each day they visited, shared tea, food lines, meals and conversation with neighbors Ismail, Um Ali, Ghoussoon, Ghassem and others. From almost their very first hour in the camp, they were befriended by 10-year-old Raoul, and over the days that followed, his struggle with attending the camp's school provides one of the film's most poignant stories, one that speaks to the challenges of all Syrian refugee children and youth—as well as their parents and all who wish to provide aid. Perhaps most surprising is the entrepreneurism of so many they talk to—a spirit of resilience that, despite grief, trauma and loss, dispels stereotypes of refugees as dependents lacking initiative. "Almost every refugee we met was actively looking for opportunities to work and further their education," state Temple and Ingrasci on the film's website. "Their main barrier was the lack of resources available to pursue their ambitions; resources that should be provided by the international community." All along their journey into understanding, the duo’s “GoPro verité” visual style and candor keep viewers tight at their sides in the tent, around the camp and throughout the adjoining town. After the film’s 75-minute runtime, you can go to the website to learn more and connect with other viewers. Temple and Ingrasci now stand among the best of a rising generation of activist-humanist visual journalists, rooted in compassionate curiosity. Not released commercially, Salam Neighbor can be booked for educational and custom screenings through its website.