This short doc begins with a caution: “WARNING: This film contains graphic images of injuries caused by war.” And while the film is disturbing on many levels, it’s important on many more. Syria remains a vexing geopolitical problem for the world community, but this astonishing documentary isn't trying to figure out solutions. Rather, it's focus is on a Syrian-American doctor named Hisham Bismar, who leaves his comfortable practice in the U.S. to work in a Turkish hospital 50 feet from the border of Syria. The horrors he sees, and the humanity we witness, are indelible and essential.
After years of war, concrete blockades, corruption, suicide bombings and the departure of friends and family for safer countries, there are few opportunities left in Kabul, Afghanistan.
How We Choose follows several people as they grapple with the heart-wrenching decision to leave their motherland — some illegally — and start over again in a new country. The optimists who stay do so because of their desire to bring about positive change and to help create a hopeful future where suicide attacks are not part of daily life. Staying and going each present much to be lost, as well as gained.
Photojournalist Robin Hammond is haunted by the people he has walked away from. His subjects are the victims of unspeakable atrocities, and they, he notes matter-of-factly, are still there — in the conflict zone, afflicted — after he’s left. Through his work, Hammond makes all of us witnesses, as well. Thus, he proposes, “ignorance cannot be used as an alibi for inaction,” and “we are all complicit.” Having taken on the bleakest of all possible subjects, Hammond finds redemption in the humanity of his images.
Puentes de Salud is a volunteer-run clinic that provides free medical care to undocumented immigrants in south Philadelphia. Here, doctors and nurses work for free to serve people who would otherwise fall through the cracks.
Clinica de Migrantes, a potent film by Maxim Pozdorovkin, follows the workers and patients of Puentes through months of routine care and growth. Along the way, the film puts a face to the millions of people who exist on the margins of society: people displaced from their homelands, separated from their families, unfamiliar with the customs, unable to obtain health insurance and terrified to come forward to seek medical help.
Along with revealing these patient stories, Clinica is also a look at the heroic doctors and nurses who work pro bono to ensure these people receive care, offering a deeply moving look at the limitless potential of humanity.
In the fall of 2015, Telluride native Gabriel Lifton-Zoline was in Eastern Europe reporting on the refugee crisis. While there, he met and befriended a young Syrian refugee named Mehyar Sawas and gave him a phone to document his journey.
Over the next five months, the pair exchanged more than 164 pages of messages online. Mehyar, meanwhile, filmed his life.
The result is The Sculptor of Damascus, a poignant film that puts a powerful face on the refugee situation. In Mehyar, we discover a peaceful young man who is tortured over the abandonment of his family, who has dreams to be an artist and who seeks, more than anything, to survive.