Web Series Wednesday – The Journey

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By: Kathryn Trammell

 

What? The Journey

 

By: Field of Vision

 

Who? The Journey is directed by Mathew Cassel and features the true stories of Aboud and Christine Shalhoub and there two children, his brother Amer Shalhoub and Fadwa and her two daughters Narina “Nina” and Narita “Nana.”

 

Why Should I Watch?

 

In times of antipathy brought on by divisive rhetoric and fear-mongering, people need to be reminded to feel – to be sympathetic to the those who strive to make us happy and empathetic to those who want to share in that happiness. And because sometimes the ability to evoke these feelings is more successful outside of reading a 140-character rant or counter-rant, I highly recommend you watch and share the stories portrayed in Mathew Cassel’s compelling six-part series, The Journey, to those you feel are in need of an empathy overhaul.

 

The series is filmed as if a reader thumbed through the pages of a National Geographic article so rapidly that the stories across each page sprung to life. The Journey is a beautifully documented story about the men and women who decide that their country is no longer safe enough to sustain the life they want to live with the people they love most. Their plight to achieve this life is no less dangerous than the one they left, and throughout the documentary the refugees travel various kinds of terrain through multiple countries, face thieves all-too-willing to capitalize on their need to secure safe travel and risk exposure to natural elements and societal backlash just to reach a country where they can begin again.

 

With the intent to inform above all else through powerful verbal, visual and auditory imagery, the stories of these refugees are told without bias and exclude images and a narrative that is overly exploitive. In fact, The Journey never really shows us in-depth scenes of the war-torn Syria that so many refugees in the documentary cite as being both their home and reason for escaping. While this means we don’t have the chance to understand on a visual level the motivations the people in the documentary have for leaving, it in no way makes their motives any less relevant or justified. In the second episode of the series a little girl named Nina explains to Cassel (while perched atop the shoulders of another refugee) that “In Syria, we were threatened. They wanted our car and one of us girls.” With these words we can’t help but truly understand the necessity of their emigration. We know in our gut as we look into Nina’s sweet brown eyes that never once fill with tears of self-pity exactly why her mother bravely determined this journey north to be safer than staying home.

 

The chance that most of us will ever be faced with making a decision like this is slim, but it is nonetheless important to understand that for some people the path to a life of happiness and hope is 1,700-mile journey from home. This is why we decided to feature The Journey this week. Nina is just one of a handful of people featured in The Journey who travel by boat, bike, bus, train, foot and plane just to make it safely to countries within the European Union where the prospect of asylum pulls at their dreams. They don’t make the dangerous trip to seek out the prosperity of a better life defined by wealth, career success and higher education. No, these people define a “better life” as one that means they won’t be kidnapped when they step foot outside their home or bombed when they sit down to eat dinner at night. For kids like Nina, a better life is one she can continue to actually live and it is important that we bolster and lift up the need for stories like hers to be told.

 

Where Can I Watch?

 

The full six-part series can be viewed on the New Yorker’s YouTube channel under the title of The Journey from Syria

 

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