Sean McAllisters documentary about a Syrian family who struggle to keep everything together while fleeing the country they adore, is simply remarkable. Filmed over the course of 5 years, it’s difficult to think that the heartbreaking reality of Syria as we now know it could have been foreseen, and the destruction of their country serves as a parallel for this particular tale.
Having met each other through mutual oppression from the country they love, Raghda and Amer form their own love and start a family while simultaneously fighting for the causes they believe in. Outspoken, passionate and motivated to create a better world, they are met with constant persecution, silencing and escalating violence. Consequently, their safety is always in question and their futures unknown.
As much as the mainstream tabloid media outlets would like you to believe from time-to-time, Syrian refugees are not looking for handouts. They are not part of a ‘swarm’ of looking to take your job, to steal your benefits and invade your country. These specific individuals, much like many others in a similar situation, do not want to leave at all. They are being driven out by indirect force, for fear of their safety and their children’s safety.
McAllister gets intimate access to their lives, showing every little argument, moment of fear and tragic occurences captured first hand. It’s a unique viewing experience, and it’s difficult to assess whether or not things would have played out exactly as they did with McAllister there – especially given he is perceived to be a media threat associated to two political acitivists. In spite of that, he appears almost as a fly-on-the-wall psychiatrist, offering support and friendship where possible, even to the kids who remain caught up in the political and personal tribulations surrounding them.
A Syrian Love Story provides a platform to the story of many, by displaying the heart-breaking story of a few through what is essentially an extended home video. You couldn’t make it up, and you wouldn’t want to. This was and still is an incredibly important documentary.