Screening – This is Exile: Diaries of Child Refugees + Q&A

Screening Monday 4 April 2016, 7:00 PM

This screening will be followed by a Q&A with director Mani Benchelah and Jess Crombie, Deputy Director of Creative at Save the Children; moderated by filmmaker and journalist Julia Kirby-Smith.

Over the course of a year, Emmy Award-winning director Mani Yassir Benchelah made this intimate portrait of Syrian refugee children forced to flee from the violence of civil war to neighbouring Lebanon. Funded by friends of Save the Children, the film tells the stories of the children’s lives in their own words and captures the moving truth of how they deal with loss, hardship and dashed hopes.

While her younger brother fetches water, Aya talks about how a soldier pressured her to provide information about her father. Little Nouredine lived through the siege of Homs and, stuttering, explains how he believes that President Assad’s soldiers are following him everywhere. Thirteen-year-old Layim harbors feelings of vengeance, although he actually likes nothing better than to help people, for example by handing out rations.

Nearly all the children look forward to returning home one day, but Fatima, who is disabled, is thriving in Switzerland where she feels fully acknowledged for the first time. Mustafa desperately wants to study, but he has to work to support his family. Through the prism of their testimony, we gain perspective on the fate of millions of Syrian refugees, half of whom are children.


Julia Kirby-Smith is a filmmaker and journalist with a special interest in social impact and digital engagement. She has worked on Channel 4 News, Dispatches and various current affairs series, as well as being Managing Editor of digital journalism agency Newzulu and running the Asia office of indie Make Productions. She now runs her own comms and video production company, Make Waves.

Jess Crombie heads a team of filmmakers, photographers, picture editors, designers and writers who shoot, craft and create all kinds of powerful, effective and award winning communications materials for Save the Children. Previous to Save the Children Jess was at WaterAid, travelling the globe producing all of their overseas shoots; Magnum Photos, heading up their Creative unit; and almost ten years in advertising as a shoot producer for Wyatt-Clarke & Jones and Publicis advertising agency amongst others. Jess has an academic background in representation theory and lectures at LCC on this and other areas.

Directed by: Mani Benchelah
Produced by: Charly Feldman for MAKE Productions
Runtime: 56′
Country: United Kingdom/Lebanon/Switzerland