Marco: an Erotic Encounter Transforms Into Consolation from Displacement

“Hi, Marco.” says the young man at the door.

In less that twenty-two minutes filmmaker Saleem Haddad tells us a story of a chance meeting of two men: Omar, a Lebanese professional seeking a massage (and probably more), and Marco, masseuse/sex worker trying to pass himself off as a Spaniard. The setting is London, and pre-erotic small talk opens the door to discovery where we learn of their very different, yet strikingly parallel, displacement narratives.

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Lunch Time — Like Mother, Like Daughter

A young woman waits nervously in a hospital waiting room to perform the grim task of identifying her mother’s body. But there’s an issue — she is a woman, and a minor, and is not allowed to see her mother’s remains unless accompanied by her father, brother, or older male relative.

In the sixteen minute film, Lunch Time, Iranian filmmaker, Alireza Ghasemi, portrays her obstacles and desperate actions revealing how male interference with her mission runs much deeper than simply seeing her mother. In fact, Ghasemi shows a troubling narrative of domination passing from mother to daughter.

Rendering Hope: Responding to Displacement Through Art

“Death,” Lebanon / Syrian refugees A drawing from a young Syrian refugee at the UNHCR office in Tyre, Lebanon, drawn by a 9 years old boy. His parents and he were coming to Lebanon when an armed group stopped the bus and they robbed the passengers. / UNHCR / S. Baldwin

Since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, attention has steadily shifted from the war’s impact on Syrians to the stress placed upon countries dealing with increasing refugee populations. Turkey, with 3.4 million; Lebanon, with 1 million; and Jordan, with 660 thousand refugees account for over half of the estimated 6.6 million displaced Syrians.

Yet these numbers do not include those from Afghanistan, Sudan, Libya, and dozens of other war-torn regions. In short, there are millions of displaced people fleeing unstable countries, and how we think about these refugees is largely shaped by the politics and media of the countries where they relocate.

While photojournalists and non-government organizations (NGOs) document the challenges of refugee populations, the refugees are likewise chronicling themselves and using creative expression to respond to forced displacement.
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Aye Habibi — A.K.’s Hip Hop Tribute to the Minority Experience

Direction and production: A1 Productions

It is a late night, and Anand Kuchibotla, a.k.a. A.K., has left his friends after clubbing, a regular weekend ritual. The music wasn’t so great. He’s had one too many, and he should probably go directly home and into bed. But there is no one going home with him, nor is anyone there waiting there for him once he gets there. The night is kind of a bust.

He is hungry, and he decides to stop at a popular Middle Eastern shawarma cart in his East Village neighborhood. As he nears the cart run by a father-son team, his apprehension kicks in. They are wearing garments appropriate for praying in the nearby mosque and speaking Arabic. What will they think when a tipsy dark-skin guy stumbles up to them asking for food? They come from a culture that discourages drinking and encourages piety and clean living. Should he approach them? But his need for food overrides his concern, and he places his order.
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Life in a Refugee Camp As Seen Through the Eyes of Young Refugees

Ali Morad, 11 years old, self-portrait using a mirror. All images herein copyrighted by the respective photographers and Reza Visual Academy.

The astonishing number of people fleeing war in the past half-decade has caused increased editorial attention toward the complex circumstances and dire conditions of refugees, and much of this coverage presents them in terms of how they impact destination countries. However, Reza, an internationally acclaimed photographer, has placed cameras and photography training in the hands of young refugees, who produce astonishing images that let us understand displacement through their eyes, and at the same time, help them cope with being outcast by war.
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