Hamid Benamra

Is there a difference between a prison, detention, shelter, military camp, refugee camp, and refuge? What is the difference between the documentary cinema directly addressing the conscious and the cinema addressing third person pronouns?

What is the difference between the portrayed life within an artistic frame and life outside the frame? What is the difference between the Palestinian in the western mentality and any passer-by in the streets of New York, Paris, or London?

The continuous use of music may turn into a burden that the characters can't shoulder. Their cause is heavier than their weight and they aren't in need of supplicating others, because Palestinians don't beg a role in TV drama

A home country is a map drawn by the winner who surrounds it with barbwires tearing the sights of children every day. It is like a thin body with a shrinking heart, diminishing land dream, and decreasing chance of return on daily basis. Immigration was made into a film entitled Never Die as a Refugee that won the Jury Award in Aljazeera Festival 2014. Its core notion takes us from Safad, to Wadi Al Samak, to Ein Al Hilweh, to the director's camera. Then, it takes us to the past and to the future through Palestine, Syria, and Lebanon.

 Tragedy lists
The film, directed by Bahiya Nammour, unveils the lists of torn cities and towns. It also goes through the shelling, fire, and The Balfour Declaration in 1917. It is a film about escaping death and the search for an inch of land for the Palestinian to sleep on.

 Never Die as a Refugee is a film that prefers to talk about love and hope without which a Palestinian never migrates nor does he begin his life afresh every day. Thus, what is the difference between a refugee camp in the Arab World and the life of poor people on the streets on civilized European countries?

The film's empathy with its characters is between a hasty-made reportage in one side, and a well-made documentary at another, as it was shot by two different filming crews. However, the film characters don't hesitate in its constant search for home, water, work, passport, bread, and a free future.

In Bahiya Namour's film about the Palestinians misery, she paused before eye-catching and passing snapshots that relate stories about the refugee camp more than protagonists' do.

A speaker was fixed on electrical wires indicating a mosque without a minaret. Birds in cages tweet for a stolen home country and don't envy passers-by for their missed freedom. The signs of shelling are evident like an inactive volcano that had erupted in pre-history.

The camera seems like a magic wand because interviewees turned the film into a space to express their problems and we become idle witnesses.

 Musial burden
The continuous use of music may turn into a burden that the characters can't shoulder. Their cause is heavier than their weight and don't need to supplicate others, because Palestinians neither beg a dramatic role on TV nor they want to be seen as priests who were oppressed by the world. Therefore, does a documentary film require a resonant chord, or is it a mind-provoking art more than a melancholic art?

The film, hesitantly, empathizes with its characters between a hasty-made reportage one time, and a well-made documentary at another, for it was shot by two different filming crews

There are moments that depict a child playing with a white plastic bag tied to the end of the branch, fluttering like surrender flag of a soldier in a battlefield. The camera shifts to the optimistic face of the child, so we expect he is looking for the butterflies of The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, he will gain nothing other than the night insects approaching his smile.

The child doesn't know that his butterfly dream is limited to the prison in which he lives. Other children look for water for their mothers with buckets in their hands and moving between water tapes every day.

A take depicting a street vendor selling fava beans in the narrow allies trying to find a customer ready to sacrifice the last penny in his pocket. The camera rests on the vendor's cart to show the heavy price of fava beans, we then feel livelihood is diminishing like everything else in the camp.

"Al Baha Garden" with its imported beach sand hosts children who have never been to a sea. A Palestinian with accounting degree can't be employed on the merits of his qualifications. The Palestinian father in the refugee camp can't exert his daily fatherhood, because he leaves home at dawn and returns at night past his children's bedtime. He is the invisible father of children who were imprisoned without committing a crime.

 Dislocation maps
The film of Bahiya Namour doesn't only introduce its characters, but also draws maps of their dislocation journeys. The life of Palestinians in the camp is like expired goods being stocked up on an exporting port with no ships.

When a Palestinian is content with the least thing in the camp, this doesn't mean he has a small dream; rather, this reflects his tremendous optimism. This is because when we can't get what we want, it would be wiser to like what is in hand. So, a Palestinian is aware that death has one taste, whether in the refugee camp or in the besieged home.    

A woman concealed in a Red Cross tent - a symbol of absent Arab aid - "lost" her voice while describing the Palestinians as "devastated people".

Never Die as a Refugee is a film that spares no effort in capturing a snapshot of life despite the forthcoming death. Khaled Mustafa repeats a slogan "Humanity says enough"; the camera then depicts this faded away message on a banner. The film editor didn't suffice with the effect of this take, but he repeated the voice and its echo as if it was intended for a first grade pupil.

Why the film didn't go overboard with sound effects and abandoned the simple and clear language of cinema? Why the director doesn't trust the viewers' intelligence and their ultimate sensitivity? The camera keeps taking shots of the refugee camp when it pauses at the sound of a football kick of a ball that is half pumped while the other half is looking for air.

 Balls, whether made of rubber or plastic, like to be kicked and urge children to run spontaneously. It was an impromptu game without audiences, ticketing office, stadium, and commentator except for the camera of Bahiya that filmed the legs of players who are willing to play on the stadiums of Madrid, Montpellier, El Menzah, and "July 5" but it is impossible to get there.

 Listening to Khalil relating the death of his pregnant wife four days earlier to her delivery by Israeli air strikes makes us speechless towards his resistance to hell. His life only revolves around the memory of his mistress and his love towards a son that he will never meet again. Khalil tried the grace of marriage for only 9 months after he had lived as a single for 38 years. The sudden murder of his wife by a pilot took him back to the starting point once again.


Bahiya Namour while receiving her award from jury member Mouna Stewart (Al Jazeera)

Would the camp be a new citizenship for a whole population that is not listed as humans in the UN records? This documentary film is a continuing questioning gate despite its prolonged style on viewers due to the melancholic style of TV. So, how the West inquires about suicide bombers when whole generations lost their dreams for more than 60 years?

The Algerian martyr, Al Arabi Ben Mahdi, tells a French colonist when he was asked by a journalist about the bombing of bars in Algiers, "Give us, only for a day, your warplanes and tanks and we will give you our traditional bombs, only then you will understand what oppression means."

Source : Aljazeera