Refugee Status: Privileged
Abstract: The idea for the short film Mare Nostrum (Rana Kazkaz and Anas Khalaf, 2016) came to me as a result of several experiences I had in April 2015. At that time, I was making a documentary with Syrian refugees living in Jordan and three of them were contemplating taking the illegal boat ride across the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe. None of them knew how to swim. Next, while at a dinner party in Amman, I was shocked to hear judgmental words aimed at those who dared risk their lives to cross the sea in the name of hope: “selfish”; “such greed”; “they should stay where they are”. Then, I saw a news reporter state that nearly 800 people had drowned that day trying to cross the Mediterranean. Finally, while researching information about Syrian refugees, I learned that an Italian initiative that had been rescuing people from the sea had been terminated. It was called Operation Mare Nostrum. With all this information, the cinematic images formed in my mind: a father throws his daughter in the sea, no dialogue. Only at the end do we understand he was teaching her to survive. This is an account of the making of Mare Nostrum.