Forced into Dreamland: "Notes on Displacement" review

English Daily #2
Notes on Displacement (2022) / Regional Panorama
Khaled Jarrar
13.07 10:00 Cinema House, Grand Hall
13.07 16:30 Moscow Cinema, Red hall

In a region of perpetual conflict and constantly shifting borders, people are compelled to relocate constantly, abandoning their homes in search of security within more stable and recognized borders, such as Europe. This pressing issue, particularly exacerbated by the outbreak of war in Syria and the harrowing stories portrayed in the media, has found various manifestations in cinema. The documentary Notes on Displacement addresses this topic with a distinctive approach crafted by Palestinian multimedia artist and director, Khaled Jarrar.

Notes on Displacement premiered at IDFA in 2022, but was actually filmed in 2015. The film chronicles the journey of two Palestinian families as they migrate from the Yarmouk camp in Damascus to Europe. What sets this documentary apart from many others that tackle the subject retrospectively is that the director, in this case, accompanies the protagonists throughout their harrowing migration experience, documenting their struggles as they traverse Greece, Cyprus, Macedonia, and Hungary, ultimately reaching their long-awaited dreamland: Germany. The migrant characters in the film span three different generations, each navigating their own path of displacement and integration.

While the elder generation resembles uprooted plants, deprived of their life force, the younger members of the families adapt more easily to their new reality. Though some of the protagonists have experienced multiple displacements, including leaving their homes in Palestine back in 1948, the director consciously avoids engaging in explicit political discussions or taking a definitive stance. The film presents the struggles faced by the main characters with a stark and unembellished approach, devoid of poeticization or a deliberate attempt to evoke pity. Instead, it offers a distorted portrayal of their challenges, showcasing the harshness and clarity of their experiences.

Sona Karapoghosyan