The Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation For Documentary Photography & Film
2014 Film Laureate – Alfonso Moral
Project: A CITY WITHOUT DREAMS
Region/Impact: Government Repression and Refugee Suffering, Lebanon and Syria
Almost one million Syrian refugees live in Lebanon. Many of these refugees live in poverty and despair among hundreds of tent cities scattered across Lebanon. These refugees represent a fraction of the total number that have lost their homes, along with their lives in Syria.
But exile and the Syrian diaspora also affect an invisible generation of young artists and entrepreneurs whose future expectations were destroyed in their own country. They are forced to live in cities like Beirut where they are treated with contempt because of their nationality with little hope of realizing their aspirations and dreams.
Filmed between Beirut, Lebanon and Aleppo, Syria, Alfonso Moral’s A City Without Dreams, focuses on Nouri who fled Aleppo with his girlfriend Heba and their one year old son Aram in the summer of 2012. They left behind a city at war for Beirut, their reference for the modern Middle East, in search of work and a new life. But here they face rejection by Lebanese society which blames them for many of its endemic problems.
As Nouri talks about the difficulties in Beirut and reminisces of better times back home, the film moves to Aleppo in March 2013. The city has been in the grip of war for more than eight months. It is divided into two areas: one still dominated by the Syrian government and another controlled by numerous rebel groups, many of them without military experience and made up of young people united only by the idea of overthrowing the regime of Bashar al Assad.
These young people appear and disappear on the frontline maze of the old city of Aleppo, which has been completely destroyed. As former inhabitants of these streets, they are now anonymous characters who fight and die every day.
Back in Beirut, Nouri is deadlocked in a situation where his son has no papers and the Lebanese law requiring parents to be married in order to have children. Failing to meet this requirement, Nouri can go to jail. Their only option is to leave the country bound for Sweden.
A City Without Dreams goes beyond the bullets and tent cities shown in clips by traditional media and puts a human face on the struggles and lost dreams of an entire Syrian generation.