The Final Year : A Film Review


The Final Year

Cast : Barack Obhama, John Kerry, Samantha Power, Ben Rhodes. Producers : John Battsek … producer, Diane Becker … co-producer, Alice Bristow … associate producer, Christopher Buchanan … co-producer, George Chignell .. Production Executive : Passion Pictures, Christopher Clements … Production, Executive: Motto Pictures, Ann Rogers,  associate producer, Kerstin Emhoff … co-executive producer, Julie Goldman … producer, Tyler Gurd … associate producer, Carolyn Hepburn … Production Executive Ann Rogers … associate producer, Andrew Ruhemann … co-executive producer, Nicole Stott … Production Executive: Passion Pictures, Erikka  Music by Philip Sheppard Cinematograph  by Martina Radwan, Erich Roland, Film editing by Joshua Altman, Langdon Page. Duration 1hr 29mins. Cert. 12a.


The Final President

Home Box Office have created a documentary of the final year in office of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama’s tenure of service from 2009 to 2017 an inevitable expectancy reaching a form of closure.

THE FINAL YEAR is a unique insiders’ account of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy team during their last year in office. Featuring unprecedented access inside the White House and State Department, THE FINAL YEAR offers an uncompromising view of the inner workings of the Obama Administration as they prepare to leave power after eight years.  It is an ‘fly on the wall’ without the depth of the intimacy of private wrestling with the pervasive conflicting day to day manifestations of outfall not just of past history but managing the present.  It is inside and insightful yet is disappointing and troubling to watch.

News Management has soared to the top of everyone’s truth seeking senses.  It seems we are all on a course of becoming a component in an agenda of mismanaged futures through the choices made in elections everyone is on someone’s line of trajectory.  People as commodities.  Holding firm to truth and where it emanates from is as ever a pathos, as stories crush and compel arguments across Governmental desks.  Challenges are of unique carefully drafted message enveloped in media forms confronted by the reveal of history none were anticipating. Paradise papers and whistleblowers.  Julian Assange just recently became a citizen of Ecuador while the GB Government has him under house arrest.  Democrat disjunction, disfunction, is here to be seen also writ large ahead of the triumphalism of the anti-Athenian D. Trump.  Dialogue is free and interpreted instantly.  This film takes us up to that threshold and we are in the arc following when the choke was taken off the master tapes of the White House and Twitter accounts tell of internal wrangling.


Term of Office

No longer is there a President of the United States but a franchise which is part an incumbent of enemies trading powers privilege staying off legislation. A News managed for the mass consumption in return for a route to launder currency is all it took to dismantle the final office frontier. Nations and boundaries no longer matter and instead a block chain of political dimensions untaught in manuals or educational establishments, for that is what they were, are grounded on blocks of power. High yield is a derivative played by arms provisions.


Adjust the War

Barack Obama was the last President concerned with solving the long trail of a Rothschild type Imperialist agenda which saw the Gaza Strip as a battleground. He could not avoid it but it was not an analysis of sufficient gravity but a long held (dis)belief it was not a religious warp. So religion and it’s many dimensions never became part of the guidance on either side. Read the scholarly Saeb Shaath on the legacy.  Syria and The Middle East have held a long sword of unremitting horror over its own people extracting themselves from a century or more of exploitation through its  own tyranny. 20c Oil has been the catalyst for the resurgence of the Arab world to again become valid citizens in a fallible relationship with its surrounding neighbours and fellow followers of peaceful unity but it has harboured the hurt and damage caused by invasion and exploitation of corporate thieves. Now the calamity is in a frame of technicolour news as daily reports of intolerance, genocide and divisiveness saturate continents and infiltrate the outskirts of formerly untroubled Nations. Migration by displacement is a shared world problem.


Calmness is a convoy of aid and here in the film of the round up of conventions and diplomatic dancing comes another narrative. Blaming and shaming. The aid literally is blown up by an actor for the world to react to, showing the failure diplomacy is. UN outrage is blunt and name calling. Putin is intent on alarming the world by showing here it is a crime to want peace if you do not accord with a rule of one Federation. The former Soviet Union is revengeful and Ukraine which barely gets a mention in this documentary is as near as we can place a truth of division outside of the Middle East used as a bargaining chip by both sides. The Hillary Clinton input is put aside also.


Global Diplomacy

Heavily featured here is the Vietnam veteran John Kerry. He justifiable carries the burden of spokesperson for the nothing war which claimed and still does the lives of many of his fellow combatants and by mines left unexploded awaiting a victim. The Vietnam War follows through from Kennedy whose armaments fed the Vietnamese regimes fighting Communism to the Johnson and Nixon destruction both of their own troops and many civilians in Laos and thereafter came an legacy where there is still a long unbroken chain leading into Presidency after Presidency. Obama is intent on doing his peacemaking tour around the world and finds it gratifying and just in going back to the past and looking to repair the broken shattered peace and being a fitting memorial for drawing a line. Japan and Hiroshima will also feature.

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John Kerry is on the alternative narrative of dealing with today’s catastrophe while ignoring the elephant in the room of USA defence weaponry manufacture and industrial warmongering industries. Safe to say he is not a pacifist as late on he declares and at the same time purports to be seeking peace. On USA terms. The other handgliding drone in the room is a UN Ambassador whose job is to make the obstinate squirm and show up the fallacy of their ways. Samantha Power has the unusual insight of an Irish Immigrant background; disqualified from running for office by that origin but equipped by having been recruited on the basis of a journalists approach and her book on origins of war and where they are taking us, at least that was my original take on its premise. The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University (sic) was the institution Samantha Power established a Human Rights Foundation in. From writing about how 20th century genocide was ignored (wide generalisation given the WWII and continuation of The Great War) is lost in narrative with the title The Problem from Hell. Women’s issues are highlighted and it is neither seen as a fashion thing about wearing hijabs or subjection but a basic lack of equality. Religious dogma is not writ large. Kidnapping and slavery and terrible abuses are documented while the daylight of a USA where a form of women’s subjection is to open on news fronts across industries in a #me too narrative is in the shade here. Truth will out eventually. One of the guides they fail to recount is John Stuart Mill, not only on divinity recalling the individual broadly used not as freedoms footnote but as a economic distribution ethos.

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Unintelligible is the strength and power of religious idealism and internally humanity overdoing any ‘value’ hierarchy brought about by trade. JSM relies on ‘constructive empiricism’ while seeing or rather not seeing ‘nature’ – the storms of civilisation alongside the natural phenomena of our daily bread – constantly putting us in our rightful place demanding reconciliation with it and ourselves. For JSM his wisdom also produced solutions peculiar to himsel& and in his relationship with Harriet Taylor evidenced an equality of existence even the Church could not form. Itself a ‘periclesian’ mode which was denying no one their individual freedom. The suffragettes at the same time conducted wicked and detestable bombing and created a scourge still not acknowledged as a means to an end. Democracy. Enemies were many and often with good cause. So this is a backdrop History is failing to include in the breath of those forces confronting the so called ‘leaders’ this film seems intent on eulogising in a passing river of consciousness as it reaches down rebranched tributaries and flows continually caring the waters which it will always carry.


Dressing wounds

Narratives are forms of life and no history of the world can be written without the diaspora having a say. From the Anglicised retention’s of rule in a Fedralised America to the Religious strength consumed and abused in the USA and nations from the tip of South America up to Alaska, Canada, across Europe and spread dishonestly as a rhetoric of truth comes another will. The will of America to prevail and be prevalent as values which we are overhearing in the everyday talk of the rooms of power.  No mention of the G20 or Peter Sutherland, Goldman Sachs or any taint of monied America getting its hands dirty?  Just another HBO narrative with displacing counterpoint in soundbites hurled with intended anonymity into the whirlpool of chaos two steps behind the developing story.  At the beginning of the film comes a follow me routine. The feet fast and well shod on prepared ground. The diplomats timetable run out as prescribed in advance but always a beat behind. It’s as though they are insistent on not being their on time so as to disown the past.

Imperialist allies

Britain invented Israel as a removal of a family of languages and people. the afroasiatic form called Hamito-Semitic, a family of languages including as subfamilies Semitic, Egyptian, Berber, Cushitic, and Chadic.  Syria is Palestine and holds a bitter division in opposition to the Imperialist Israel Project with Lebanon as a hideout. An interesting novel character is found in a speech writer whose compass matches Barack Obama’s.  Ben Rhodes is an under forty master of spin and incisive vective. This is a part of Obama’s person he (Obhama) can’t devote time to so has allowed a surrogate to unfold his theories and unlock his wisdom. Unwittingly or is it intent, he is cast in the mound of a Jewish intern general with a false past which is possibly denuded of the Religious might he is from.

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Religion is swerved here. His Episcopal Father and Jewish Mother are tongues he listened to and listens internally to now it would seem safe to assume. No faith is to undo the legacy of an infant Israel heresy. Muslim or Christian. Judaism in a bold type of monotheistic reason is adhered to in American eyes.  Both these travellers, Obhama, Rhodes, are Religious in degrees privately it has to be assumed from other media but often as not it is left outside the Oval Office. Neither seems to realize their part is based in Religious heirachy and they are beholden by virtue of their cloth. That sets them apart and mitigates against their understanding of others values not matching theirs. Fundamentally in the Middle East.  Winston Churchill is apparently their mentor or past leader of choice for guidance. He was beholden to America also and Blenheim Palace became the gift of the British Crown for his persuasion in getting the USA to enter WWII and send supplies into a Europe which was under siege from that genocide The Problem from Hell. More like the problem of Hell. How not to see it. How to not recognize its advance.

Hell is in the clouds and earth.

Speeches set the tone and every new room entered has a pathos to be delivered. For Barak Obama it is the American Declaration of Independence and is foremost in lectures to the gathered. It was what a Congress was derived for. July 4, 1776, and the words were set in Washington’s Presidency. Those words were conscripted from Ulster’s Francis Hutchensons philosophy brought forth by Thomas Paine as exiles of the yoke of imperialism they so detested.  Unitarian in thought and principle their ideas were nevertheless based on individuals allowance of free thought. Less words would carry such might as those distilled here. Yet where are the notions of the Declaration in assignment against the tours of combat since embarked on. Only the hideous genocide of future generations in Africa and Asia would equal the waste of WWII and its legacy borne world wide. Now the countries are being stripped of their assets by new entrants from China and the G20.

Conclusion ###3

Rich as this film is equipped with the sensory media behemoth of the United States of America in history mode it fails to direct the camera in any decisive illuminating way while illustrating a West Wing narrative which is high on ideal and lacking in scuprles or any game changer dynamic.  The anticipation of office has been swamped by time advancing with greater perils opened up through truth emerging in histories recall.  As a mission to complete the 44th Presidency many repairs were sought to be made by Barack Obhama while his steadfast troops both suited and fatigued were deployed on present day flanks with much of the common talk broken into slow burning flames of hope.  It is a film worth seeing as a reminder of the removal from the political sphere a genuine worthy experience of mankind reckoning with their own failures and beholden by powers immensely conflated and misunderstood.  Philosophy is in its a bit but it is a failure to define politics as a motor of governance for the common good which is all too clearly absent given the extremes of the states and actors involved at the heart of our world order.

John Graham

18 January 2018


Opening at Queens Film Theatre Belfast 19 January 2018 until 25 January 2018.

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Sanctuary : A Film Review


Director. Len Collin, Writer. Christian O’Reilly, Production. Edwina Forkin, Director of Photography. Russell Gleeson, Editor. Julian Ulrichs, Design. Sonja Mohlich, Eleanor Wood, Music. Joseph Conlan, Cast. Kieran Coppinger, Charlene Kelly, Robert Doherty, Michael Hayes, Emer Macken, Paul Connolly, Frank Butcher, Patrick Becker, Jennifer Cox, Valerie Egan.

Cert 15. Duration 1hr 27mins.

Loves logic and laughs logistics

Screenwriter Christian O’Reilly with a previous disability themed feature Inside I’m Dancing (2004)) has adapted Sanctuary from his play of the same name produced by Blue Teapot Theatre Company between 2012 and 2014.

Director Len Collin and his team have reinstalled the same cast from the original stage production. Mainly Larry (Kieran Coppinger) and Sophie (Charlene Kelly) and Tom (Robert Doherty) their care worker, whose step outside the usual routine creates a havoc and brilliant set piece for antics of Rom-Com notions and with pathos and a heartfelt journey through common emotions and the premise of arranging for Sophie and Larry to have some time alone brings about for the group around them as well a bold adventure in the ancient Galway citadel. A day out at the Cinema is the arch and a day passes with happenings breaking down many barriers and showing many of societies silent and muddled thinking. There is a dark central theme of abuse and it is not necessarily lodged in the past and remains undealt with properly or with dignity. The sexual power is wrested away from individuals who are loving and unrecognised equals and in the course of dealing with their sexual driver without guidance help or educational means to construct each of their own narratives.

Modern Love and Loving

Now as 2017 comes to a close this new Irish Film brings a very high intensity tale of human frailty and thoughtful, thought provoking film now to be screened on general release. Sanctuary is a word only partially conveying the entry and subject of the story. It sets about totally opening human emotional constructs in its portrayal of the love sought and enveloped in every part of our existence. As an Irish black comedy/drama/thriller/ …. its a sum of many parts …. it may be, will be one of the best things your likely to see over the Christmas period and it has the solidity of being a universally themed and therefore poignant drama significantly pointing up the world of disabilities visited on people in ill health. With a cast of people with learning disabilities – mostly Down’s syndrome which Tom (Robert Doherty) the person whose job it is to look after the groups activities tactful describes his group to a Gard (PSNI equivalent but unarmed mostly!) itself a script crafted nuance which this film has in spades.

Nuances are aplenty and there is a central theme of a Rom-Com for the cast and audience to feast on. Set in the Galway of last Christmas, filmed also out of sequence during this year presumably in the interior stories, it is a journey into the unknown and is teased out joyfully and at times laugh out loudly – lol – as the plot thickens and never overdoses its prescripted meds pathos.

Complex emotional theatre

Hard as it is to imagine for myself the dilemmas uniquely faced by disabilities other that tertiary glimpses, I see the story being given artistic licence and the work is scripted by someone whose knowledge has constructed a story and avoided complexities of sexual education and also angst, anxiety, panic attacks which must occur under the circumstances which are to everyone more than a ‘given’ – emotional worlds do not come with an instruction manual – so a degree of leniency in absorbing the arch of the story is carefully written in without loosing the very real juxtaposition of societies and the caring communities different rules and constraints. In taking on the task of delivering a coherent and fully entertaining instruct full insightful – a word which is bound to turn up on its reflection – there is a commitment to drama and theatre which is delivering in the ancient dramatic techniques of fictionalised performance around since no theatre and dance verbal communications etc. I thought of it as similar to Theatre of Witness work in Derry Playhouse as drama used as a tool of understanding in the circle and womb of commune with the universes foundations.

Mary O’Malley of the Lyric Theatre fame saw this vehicle as other numerous Irish dramatists have and still encounter to pu5 before us the intractable. La La No on Yeats excursion into No theatre and with Basil Blackshaw’s (Igor Stravinsky and Picasso and Rivera invoked) set design – a revival is overdue!!! Cinema is used here within the film. I jotted down these three, Punky – possibly made in connection with this film, ScrewBack, Maiden of the Sea. These are the fodder of the Eye Cinema Multiplex the group visit as a daytime Christmas outing which is viewed in individuals own tastes carefully comically observed and counterpoint to the off screen romantic and otherwise interactions which come rich and varied.

Tom the believer.

Key worker and helper par excellence Tom (Robert Doherty) takes his caring a bit far and therein lies the drama – and story.  The effect is a brilliantly delivered cinematic excursion of multiple advantages and rewarding for the watching of, as well I can see for the cast whose everyday life is a daily battle with the present, with the past a place they tend not to dwell on. Therein is another reality, the fact that the demands of the everyday are unlike this for most of us and as such careful attention needs to be taken in respect of the physical world, bodies get programmed to and in routine, depending in the individual expectations. This equates and permeates as different tasks not to be taken as ‘given’ for those with very significant health problems.   Lots of the cast have challenges which are dealt with with dignity and solace derived from the care and fellowship – not always present in the past or present – received by a society trining to adjust and often failing to care.

Title leanings and meanings

Seeking the sanctuary of companionship and a partner is profoundly, instinctively programmed as a right of birth while it is found wanting for many including and often beyond the scope of infirmity visited on the body disabled by unknown (why all humans are factored in with flaws) these biological demons chemically damage our constructs bewilderingly. From early life the dna of ourselves is implanted and does strange things which the rest of life is often fully occupied with redressing.

1 immunity afforded by refuge in such a place.

2 any place of refuge; asylum.

3 a tract of land where birds and wildlife, especially those hunted for sport, can breed and take refuge in safety from hunters.

Plot pivot

as described above Tom is a master of mayhem and is not the smartest cog in the machine of managing complex situations. His own Rom-Com adventure is a mirror of the main pivot as he through his ‘girlfriend’ – it’s a treading on loves first tender footsteps ladder for him – arranges a Hotel interlude for Larry and Sophie. Sophie is managing tempts and severe epilepsy and the trip to the Cinema is craftily interrupted which enables the plans to detour to a hotel to come about. While three depart the Cinema another set of side stories is put in motion. Some delightful sub-plots or situational devices bring out the companion actors whose part is to either go with the flow or go and do their own thing or even stay put. The balloons of momentary delight are plentiful and very funny and helpful in telling the often oblique unconsidered tales individuals have in their orbit. Delight is often short lived and the good feelings are let go by other interventions.

Directions taken

Director of Photography Russell Gleeson uses mostly intimateclose framed shots to convey the focus of individuals immediate always dangerous present time existence. Very few landscape walking the dog type shots are used – the theatrical origins is one reason perhaps for this but it is very evident the past where a lot of people cannot move on from or compartmentise is a secondary unhelpful adjunct when disability has presented. The world of dialogue is meticulously held and each scene is a fine edged element in relation to the ongoing story. Rita whose early part in the story is as an Agatha Christie type sleuth with eyes for everything and covert occupational reconnaissance of her friends in the group is eventually given another role nd another side of her character blooms or is enabled. The love she watches hawk eyed and in the margins is hers if she she so desires. These little sidelines are intricately woven and just as illuminating as the core Larry and Sophie tryst. The Galway we see is full of hope and expectation. By some prophetic, intended mirror devised by writer Christian O’Reilly this Yuletide is taken at the flood of goodness in its magical often surreal never never-land. Rita gets to visit the Winter Christmas market and enjoys a friendly meeting with bored citizens of the magic. Often children don’t believe in Christmas for too long but load their expectations on the adults who in turn deal with it among family and friends to escape the problems of health, homelessness, separation, bereavement, work and home related for a short time. The spectacle is very convincing often. Seeing the (drone) overhead of the River Corrib flowing beneath the bridge towards the Atlantic as a torrent and the city fall into a nightime for the returning day to follow is mesmerising in a away. The tumble of the short run from the interior Lough is a miraculous event of continuity.

Conclusion ####4

This is an outstandingly uplifting and conflicting film. It presents the central topic of relationships on a universal and mirror reflecting everyone multiple illusions and realities. The story of lives confronting and dealing with disabilities is profoundly achieved in a well conceived theatrical way. It is as mentioned above like a theatre of witness into urges and emotions and the sanctuary of thought in communicating love and finding giving and receiving love in a life disordered since the beginning of time. Human instincts are to seek out meaning and purpose while forming a personal narrative. This is a very ambitious and never patronising approach to a subject of sexual urges and relationships empowering individuals in their own pathway towards discovery and their assembly of reasoning. The intellectual worth of the story is treated with concern and awareness of how it will be read or viewed. The questions are put with entertaining disturbing sometimes clarity. It may not be as simple as the narrative takes forward but it holds the essential messages without getting lost unlike the wandering of the Cinema escapees.

Sex education could do with a makeover in all corners of these islands and abroad with abuse knowing no borders it is continental, universal while Churches, institutions, authorities, the Film world etc, play down the effects and perceptions by concealment and failure to address core issues. Challenges are made by this film and answers are not its purpose but considerations of Sanctuary are ever present. Tom has no priors before this moment of unprofessional caring. Society appears as a bystander sometimes and this is how Larry and Sophie see as their barrier to love. If you have to choose between the latest Star Wars film and this its a no-brainier – go for this it is so much more than the sum of its parts and it was a privilege to see such fine performances in a range of very difficult circumstances. A great achievement worth of seeing more than once as you might miss some of the hidden gems stretching out before you. You need to be as observant as Rita who has an education through this independent in every way, film.

John Graham

20 December 2017


On at Queens Film Theatre from 29 December 2017 until 04 January 2018

At QFT the 18:20 screening on Wed 3 January will be followed by a Q&A with director Len Collin and members of the cast.

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Paterson : A Film Review



Director, Jim Jarmusch, Produced by Joshua Astrachan, Carter Logan, Written by Jim Jarmusch. Cast,  Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani, Barry Shabaka Henley, Cliff Smith, Chasten Harmon, William Jackson Harper, Masatoshi Nagase, Cinematography Frederick Elmes, Edited by Affonso Gonçalves. Duration, 118 minutes. Country. United States, Germany, France. Language, English. Cert.15. Poems by Ron Padget.  Music by Squire.

Adam Driver as Paterson, Golshifteh Farahani as Laura, William Jackson Harper as Everett, Chasten Harmon as Marie, Barry Shabaka Henley as Doc, Rizwan Manji as Donny, Masatoshi Nagase as Asian Man, Kara Hayward, Jared Gilman as Male Student, Method Man, Sterling Jerins.


Stepping back

I think it was Con Houlihan who once he witnessed a match, seen a play, had watched a film felt obliged to let it settle in his mind. Go for a pint or read a paper on the daily affairs.  That great journalist, former Kerry teacher, Castleisland, took everything seriously but with an unusually precise vision having grown up with learning through experiences and reading voraciously he became a foundation stone of critical appraisal in Ireland. This film has to be separated from the usual hubris trailing a film from a renowned acclaimed Director. The sophrosyne requires laid in singular isolation away from a chorus of any type.  Better to infuse the critique from a sole perspective and learn from it.  That is typical Con.




Disembarking the Bus

I was thinking halfway through Paterson there was a telling of the ordinariness of life in the trivialization of tedium which may explain Jim Jarmusch – whose Jim Ostenberg (Iggy)/The Stooges rockumentary was far removed from what is appreciated as a typical Jim Jarmusch film tale.  This is a unconvincing work despite the homage to New Jersey, the turnpike of a life that may delineate, polarise a Directors vision of what a heaven state, what life with little relative struggle – other people have struggles Paterson does not – his Bus Garage Manager Donny is the conveyor of troubles that inhabit, his life.  Paterson awakes each morning to the pulse of avibrating watch telling him at 6.10am its time to get up, pick up a set of clothes for work set neatly on a Lloyd loom chair in the bedroom and down a bowl of Cherrios.  While he goes through this routine, and it is quite utterly uninteresting, he hums in meter the rhythm of a poem he is in the process of composing.  Take this and multiply by five and you have a start to the day.  Monday through to Friday.  Only on a day partly through this week; I won’t spoil it otherwise you will be willing it’s arrival too early, a minor incident breaks the monotony.  Twins moderate the story telling as a sideline effort at normality = everyone is this interesting/boring.  They are in various age groups.  Even colour cast.


Culturally bagged

The focus of Paterson is his poetry and it is release occupying him and one he is encouraged by Golshifteh Farahani as Laura (more appraisal in Home and her indoors) to open up his poetry to a wider public from the neat notebook handwritten version.  It is something he kind of agrees to while she is encouraged by him to Cary on creating with her own particular B/W fixation which takes many sometimes very funny manifestations.

The film streams the poetry in pretty notation of the spoken word as it emerges from Patersons cranium as he walks, drives his bus, or walks Marvin to the bolt hole of the Bar.  Marvin is toed to a coat hook/bolt outside as the customers inside treat drinking and hanging out as a necessary part of everyday.  Jim Jarmusch uses it as a crossover with the real world though in the bar the reality is choreographed into more groundhog similarity.  Similarity with things, the essence of familiar seeming to be another level of directors message relay.  The streets are clean the rubbish bagged and most people keep themselves to themselves and neighbourhoods are simplistically a non threatening place even at night.


With another piece of turgid storymaking Jim Jarmusch makes race relations a complete non issue as everyone is non-racial.  He borrows early on an early cerebral marker for the local black Bar manager, (Doc, Barry Shabaka Henley) who as the opening of A Night train to Lisbon, in which Jeremy Irons, gravitas implanted in an empty flat competes with himself on a chess board, likewise the Bar manager. The bar is a frequent haunt, immediately sometimes post work, or more regularly, groundhog regularly, is the mid dog walk stop off.  Doc raises the prospect of relief from the tedium as he in true behind the bar style, is the loadstone of community advice.  He has a wall gallery of ‘escapees’ from Paterson which he attends to behind the bar.  Lou Costello of Abbot and Costello is a famous evacuee.  Along with Sam and Dave, Poet William Carlos Williams the wall gets quite full of former Paterson residents.  Lamely Jim Jarmusch introduces his aforementioned rock heroe who of course has nothing whatsoever to do with Paterson into the wall of fame. Lame fame get it! My jokes are as bad as his, so I could make it as a script writer. Michigan lays claim to that ‘hero’ and you will see the looseness of the attempted connection for yourselves.

img_6514 Whose on next?


Paterson in Paterson New Jersey

Paterson is an analogue town in the 21st century.  Telephone cables lace the high telephone rigs in the backwaters of Paterson and the streets driven by Paterson are a mix of five storey complexes and two storey shops flat over old town footprints.  Basically it is a place in limbo in the eighties.  There is if you look closely – the eye is invited to shift as you are unlikely to miss anything up front and central – you may notice a tower (two adjoining – relevance unknown) some twelve or more storey’s and the larger modern residential blocks.  To this slow emerging environment of NJ the film is placed very much in these architectural idioms.  When Paterson leaves home every morning; their home is a raised timber clad bungalow with a basement garage, it’s a man dungeon, his writing office, he walks down the gentle slope to the garage.  It takes him through ‘the old factories’ and here I see the architecture a sense of retention.  It is retaining the embodied energy of earlier generations graft and as a tribute, Jim Jarmusch focuses our vision and mind to the undestroyed, or partially intact, as it is remaining, if memory alone, a productive sense of place possibly capable of a resurrection.  If this is a sense of an errand of his own desire it is fairly lightweight. The genus loci is visible through modifications to doors, bricked up to window cill height replacing the adjoining, as at the Market Street Bus depot. There are upper level blocked up windows and also versions of changing interior uses.  On one little encounter, when a day allows Paterson external reflection, I noticed modern cement block infill to a couple of doorways.  While admitting to being an architectural pedant, I also admit to observing the Directors subtle approach in remaining long enough in this environment in a scene to allow us should we feel it necessary or otherwise as another pointer to lost things or of us loosing things.  There is also a reading this scoping out of a scene has intentionally or not shown a drop in ‘reinstatement – infill’ standard which goes with the 21st century attitude seen everywhere disrespecting the past.


Home and her indoors.

There is a complete homelife existance occupied by the brilliantly liberal and imaginative Golshifteh Farahani as Laura.  Her liberal self is as a free spirit alongside Paterson who only wishes he allows himself bigger scoping of his poetry by attempting to encourage its publication.  There is no enforced wishful thinking just a broadening of Patersns own perceptions of his own work and worth.  Laura is the intensive artistic multifarious sometimes subtle art.  Wall pictures are in colour in complete contrast to everything else.  The apartment as well as Laura herself becomes a black and white world – her need for clarity being overvexing.  It is a constantly increasing motif intent being carried over with a neat insert of a complete segment of yesteryear courtesy of another stroke of good fortune which befalls Laura.  Paterson is gracious and accepting of all successes and there is no contest of ego’s as inspiration or pressure.  The spotlight of home life is shared by  British bulldog Marvin (Gaye? Seldom in good humour) and he steals some of the best comedic moments.  The humour is there as mostly implied rather than directly shared jokes.  In fact Adam Driver despite his seemingly contented state is rarely if ever seen laughing.  Another purposeful direction which is neither informative or implicit.  Adam Driver is very coherent and a good projector of the everyman character he s required to inhabit.  He gives it his best shots.  His relationship is also not spirited lovemaking but platonic and carefree with touch and feel rather than intimate lovemaking which bottoms out the story again to the apparent design of the film.  Internal monologue of addressing the lovely Laura are deployed.  Laura lies showing the outline of her figure as Adam Driver talks and sometimes they exchange mild love talk as he readies to leave the bed.  These conversations, Monday, are initially incoherent with awakening breathing unadjusted.  It simply doesn’t work or is a struggle through the film with not much reward when understood.


There is a minor natural tourist attraction in the form of a scenic waterfall vista (the Great Falls of the Passaic River) There is a Japanese visitor (Masatoshi Nagase) he engages with at this viewing spot. In the foreground is an arched iron railway bridge, with an aqueduct above it.  This is a place where poetry streams through the atmosphere moving and shaping far away themes and astranged subjects.  It’s where the words of the poetry are untrodden and allowed to flow and where similar types are drawn.

Paterson’s favourite poet is, William Carlos Williams, who wrote a book of Poetry in minutiae on the ‘spell’ Paterson himself wishes to inhabit.  Adam Drivers angular frame and tuft of hair, even the ink spots on his face, (moles) along with his nose which is like a fountain pen nib is sheer serendipity as far as casting is concerned.  Never closer to resembling a pen can an actor become.


Conclusion ###3

Far from being a story or engaging narrative even as a non-story this film while looking marvelous, enjoying the good health of a Paterson – real place – New Jersey, entering the phase of winter with the leaves yet to fall, the full pelt of nature to disturb.  This past year New Jersey did not escape the brutalities of hurricanes and coastal floods and climate change threw up many challenges for the south of New York communities of New Jersey.  Jim Jarmusch is hopeful.  He portrays a place were very few of life’s problems arise and while Paterson is unusually alone in being in an eighties cocoon where very little change affects him, his closer associates have moderate immersions in the reality.  Laura’s starts of as a supernatural artistic haven of an existence but it is perhaps true to say she eventually becomes open and positively engaged with the world we exist in – the moving changing vexing one – and is a benefactor of the engagements she makes.  Likewise peripheral characters whose challenges, mostly concerning relationships are comfortably turbulent and gratifyingly akin to kin and ones own experiences.  The trouble is are you entertained or have you just inserted yourself in a Jim Jarmusch joke where he takes you in and entrap you to the tedium and resulatant Ricky Gervais like bibliographical content of an auteurs worst nightmares.  Go see conflictingly and report your findings to a consultant.

John Graham

25 November 2016


On at Queens Film Theatre Belfast from 25 November to 8 December 2016 inc.

for a good Poem occasionally – I make a point of making poetry challenging to anyone prepared to indulge in it – my own are here –

Scratch my Progress Vol. 5 : A CD Launch


Scratch my progress Vol. 5. : A Launch @ Oh Yeah Music Centre on 10 November 2016.
The bands featured on the CD Developing the Talent at Oh Yeah continues …..

This is the CD order – on the night the order didn’t matter in an egalitarian way – no hierarchy – no restrictions.


They occupy a phenomenon of being learned practiced musicians fused with a sound identifiable through many sparkling (referring not to the eye decoration of their face decorations) songs and sculptural polemic sunrising synth drum with the traditions of guitar laying down an environmental cue. You could get sentimental and attach glamour, style, sassyness to their full appropriation of the rock devils found everywhere but just like the purposeful fusion of a band like War Paint it is very much a part of the new temporal kaleidoscopic found in recent years as challenging old corners – and they are visually brilliant and purposely show performers like the zeitbeger, the stance and music comes in beautiful regulatory cycles. It will in many people’s minds just very soon illuminate many more venues and spaces as well as hearts.


and then


Emer Maguire
In case of emergency put on a Emer Maguire record. On the evening Leonard Cohen, the balladeer of heart over mind and reverses intimately back and forth, passed the indemnity of our constant absorption of songs with meaning intensely speaking of our emotions and providing language we can’t find ourselves to express – came a dynamic multi-plex set of sorrowful, joyful, cross-gender wordsmithing in the same faith as the man.
About seventy to a million things sprang to mind in the aftermath – leaving a gig brings lots of recall. The millions of cells implanting during the listening via.trillions of synapses a blueprint, Emer does the blues like a mini 21st Janis Joplin with tidal loops and a progressive interlaced sound carrying very smart and advancing storytelling lyrics. True to the traditions of Van Morrison and Leonard Cohen Several songs stood out. The diverse nature of them was a troubadours force coming in the superb voice and vocal dexterity – all ranges (virtually – no ones perfect and as recent Belfast performer Taylor Mac said – [do you hear Tom Ford?] Perfection is for assholes) are covered. There is a lot of grief around not just over LC but the DB and other losses Prince, but there is als thank God people of new generations formulating for us and to be a tribute to those before. Emer Maguire is a performer you should and will hear a lot more from. To good talent to be missed. Very appealing in many ways.


Bosch Ramos
Less is more but Drums and Bass forcing the parameters of setting themselves into a tight – that’s all there is folks just two of us – heavy scuzzy materially pushing hard rock round punk corners, around jazz like dueling and genuinely solid playing the pairing of Phil Brown on vocals – wears a wooly head cover to keep his brains in – and Calum McKeown fit and dovetail as Nirvana and immersible – they supply the kicks as the drinks kick in and you have a carry along blast the constant supply of tight and energised out pouring of drums/bass hard rock which stays clear of a thematic indulgence and delivers a potent raw mix of two guys who know exactly how to lift and energise an audience. Yet to listen to the other work on record but await it through the containment of headphones and outdoors preferably for the great escape this music savours.


Search Party
What struck me most, besides the equality of talent was the style and playing of guitarist Ethan Murphy which was not only smart, collected and driven but symbolic of understanding the chords shifts and were neat attachments to songs crafted as a unit. The material composed developed then played live took on a truly expanded room filling sound. Sharp and on the money.

img_6302and then


Petty Youth

I love the bands name and it signals a no compromise attitude virtue of their range. This persona of Bass Martin Drums Alex Drums with his brother Eoghan on Guitar are psychedelic (attitude) rock (heavy guitar dexterity) contemporary (songs to picture now or in the case of Just Seventeen the false armour of alcohol) which all reminded me of a continuation of Frank Zappa more than once. They demand you have fun because – depends on the age of the audience – their attitude especially the infectious cruelly wondrously gifted with amazing hair (I’m follicly challenged) Eoghan who you cannot ignore or dislike, pails reference Petty Youth I take it, as in contrary to the normal reactive ‘youth is wasted on the youth’ but as Iggy Pop says in the new Gimme Danger – my extensive review in this location is up very soon – it’s written and I’ve retrieved it after temporary loss – he visited a Chicago black dominated night club only to see perpetual youth in those who dance, perform get into the vibe of the moment instantly without any shields or self consciousness in their own soul blues gospel way with an overdose of the magic which gives that experience exactly what Iggy refers to ‘haven’t lost the child in them’ – or words to that effect – the Miles Davis type ingredient of new jazz fused music taking the medium, the seventh sense even further. This outfit therefore are on the same road finding out the pairings of bass guitar, bass and drums, guitar and drums, drums and vocals as an ongoing moving on sound. They nail it, hit the nail on the head, yours, and contradictorily, hit the head on the nail. They are in other words self-deprecating but not in the overboard for the sake of it Spinal Tap funny. So it’s the sound that counts and I hope they strike it with a goldmine song to ensure more production and formulations. They can do most things, Guns and Roses, Stone Roses, The Ramones you name it but they are now themselves.

So that’s it but the Bands – Check them out and also support live music.

Short story telling is my Musical review style.
It’s not about one thing and no gig ever is and it’s not
like that tourist thing called ‘the golden moment’ which
is taken away as the memory to be synaptical fused foreverish.
It about everything. This is the generosity life conveys.
I won’t write about the individual songs as they are each so
much individual marks within a context and separating them
to analysis their essence is a coat of many colors best left
alone for these purposes of interaction, reaction to a gig and
a great night of diverse and talented musicians that you
need to listen more too if you already haven’t done so if
you call yourself a local music fan/listener.

What are your songs about? – interviewer

About three minutes – Bob Dylan.
John Graham

12 November 2016


Gimme Danger Review will post at mid-day on Monday 14 November 2016 and is on at QFT most of the week check out times and go see.  It fills in a large undocumented part of the influences etc.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople : A Film Review                                     


Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Director and Writer. Taika Waititi. Cast. Sam Neill … Hec, Julian Dennison … Ricky, Rima Te Wiata … Bella, Rachel House … Paula, Tioreore Ngatai-Melbourne … Kahu, Oscar Kightley … Andy, Stan Walker … Ron, Mike Minogue … Joe, Cohen Holloway … Hugh, Rhys Darby … Psycho Sam, Troy Kingi … TK, Taika Waititi … Minister, Hamish Parkinson … Gavin, Stu Giles … Sick Man, Lloyd Scott … Tourist, Selina Woulfe … Organ Player, Mabelle Dennison … Church Lady, Sonia Spyve … Court Lawyer, Timothy Herbert … Court Lawyer, Tuss … Tupac, Finn … Zag, John Campbell … John Campbell, Mihingarangi Forbes … Mihingarangi Forbes, Nadine Chalmers Ross … Nadine Chalmers Ross, Sam Wallace ..  Sam Wallace.

Preceding this review is one for the remarkable Iranian debut film Under the Shadow set in the midst of Tehran at the beginning of the 1980 to 1988 Iraq andIran war.  A brilliant non-archetypal horror film.  See the review as it casts off at QFT on the same dates and perhaps line up the two!


New Zealand on a quiet day

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a type of road (forest/bush) movie but isn’t.  It’s really a human interest story on the estrangement through foster care and youth struggling in a data ‘enriched’ world and the reversal back out of it to basic needs and desires.  Pared down but ‘enriched’ environment and people lessons are in abundance here.  Ricky says ‘You just said Bush!’ with Ricky the lynchpin who is at first potentially a thickset irritating troubled youngster whose attention seeking personality brings conflict by the bucketload. Except he doesn’t, isn’t, is endearing and infuriating as his potential is locked in a place not of his making – governship wise. His mind is alert but a jumble.  He has a ‘Walkman’ – the Director presumably kept this as some sort of tokenism to it having got a mention in the original inspiration, the book, see next segment..  Ricky performs a bit of hip hop which you would find hard to replicate.

Wild Pork and Watercress

The book Hunt For The Wilderpeople, is supposed to be based on, I haven’t read it or sought it out is Taika Waititi’s adaptation of Barry Crump’s Wild Pork and Watercress. He’s currently Directing the mega Thor in New Zealand where this book and film are obviously based, with, you will recall perhaps, Tom Hiddlestone and at one point watching on, Taylor Swift. He is no shrinking violet Mr Waititi as he performs an assault on the book which is no mean feat given it is a memorable national treasure for some of the mere 4.4 million residents and diaspora of New Zealand.  Surprising that, a population less than that of Ireland, and around the same as Greater Manchester or Lancashire?


He tears up the story and inserts huge blocks for comedic and to great effect; two characters for instance.  The Social worker whose business it is to be the one who inserts the straight and narrow into wayward kids life’s – the shock chick, bonkers Paula played for satire and laughs, (Rachel House) and her local cop friend and colleague (Oscar Kightley) whose farcical performance has you laughing (hopefully) as the story is then bound to deliver another bountiful twist. He actually has a brilliant part at an important element of the story which is redemptive for many. This is typical as description because it is the nature of this – and the book is followed though entirely off narrative with new bits (as I mentioned it became a bastardised version) in Chaptered segments 1 – 11 with a wind up epiphany which is also a saviour.  Each chapter is about five minutes of usually fairly gripping action, eye poppingly radiant of the natural beauty of New Zealand and even an animated bird appears. Also there is a sequence – some reviewer mentioned a pan – which is not landscape centered though the vastness and extent of the Wilderness (title clue there!) is delivered by several helicopters, strangely silent in some films, intensely loud in others! We have a share of each with the former more prevalent. The pan is of the characters, providing as a film needs, variations on attack to the viewers expectations.


The Performers and presentation.

Chapter driven we have, the normality of introduction which here I describe briefly also wishing not to be any kind of plot spoiler – so character introduction only. Waititi in this low budget movie was able to find the young teen actor Julian Dennison as his lead working on a commercial. In came New Zealand soap star Rima Te Wiata as Aunt Bella. The cast includes in a small but significant part, Flight Of The Concords Rhys Darby as the isolated bushman “Psycho Sam,” with finally in a stroke of good fortune Waititi sent a script to the approving New Zealand-raised Sam Neill to play Hec.

Our child-cookie monster social worker brings along to Bella and Hector to their outback forest/bush edge homestead.  All self sufficient theory – they are nonchalant killers of boar, deer, eels, you na,e it and this s kept true to the book with chapters in which the animals get a part to play – at least in short sharp animatronics style.  No animals were harmed etc.

The farcical and frontier mishaps, several of which in normal life would had been, end of show, build in mostly a hyper dense abundance of that other caharacter trees – the tracking shots through trees must have done the head in of several crew as canyons, well drops of ten feet or so stop them in their tracks.  Location manager gets applause for finding a locality which presumably catered for several variations which appear convincingly different on screen.  Rivers and even a high mountain lake with waterfall.  It is obvious to seasoned travels – I exclude myself – these treasures locations have long since been discovered and feature on many tourist and trip advisor bulletin of seen previously in a Cinema near you In Lord of the Rings.  Cue joke and yes there is one for you to key your ears pealed for!


Characterising foster care children.

This is an advertisement for foster care.  Ricky is a hard sell but he shines with character individual survivors instinct and is also one in need of some decent parenting.  Now Bella and Hec (Hector) simultaneously are to e applauded and castigated for giving from early on a gun.  His own rifle.  He gets a dog also.  A very helpful nurture beast who he is responsible for! Bella and Hec have one of their own and the meld is carried throughout with non-speaking parts, though Taika Waititi’s take is nothing is spared for a laugh.


Lord of Lordy

To be recognised maybe as a boy with a right to create his own life and set his own path so the normal rules go. Well all well and good but parenting involves supporting the boy and providing for his needs. Independence can come later but he is determined to make a break for it early. Looking at the cast list reveals the Director Taika Waititi plays the part of a Minister so we get the director spelling out the moral angle for us. Mabelle Dennison, Ricky’s real life Mum, plays a Church lady so we get the perspective of what a real Mum wants of her son. The Ministerial ‘Address’ is Taika Waititi’s take on religion – his confusion is real. The train of thought is not exactly mind blowing for you to follow. It is a beautiful as a stretched canvas of relationships primarily, cockamamie farcical escape from the boring sometimes hurtful everyday, Ricky is wise enough to realise this semi-wild life is next to his real desires if he could be allowed to pursue its discovery for himself. It is also imposing and beatific almost reverential and God like as paradise. Lost Lords, is that what their after?

Conclusion ####4

This 12a rated film has been given a rapturous acclaimed response by critics, most notably Mark Kermode of more local expansive recall.  It is an obvious bonding catalyst for fahter son and is immersive in emotionally solidity and depth through the superb delivery of the ‘natural’ actor Ricky who bides his time with thoughtful gaze at times, gives us his moves and does prat ful with no self concious holding back.  Alongside Bella whose warmth is instant, Paula whose splendour is full on Rosie Barr comedic, to her partner under the hood with Sam Neill pivotal as the hard soft man of the country who has his own story and the expression of sympathy, empathy, wisdom, sorrow, and most of al human grace are a long way from the blockbuster heroics good as they’ve been and also delivered. It may not fit the gold dust of Lord of the Rings as epic but it’s cast, crew and the overly confident but extremely talented and likeable Taika Waititi (but did he actually say ‘Take it away Selina’! I’ll have to see it again!) falls into few traps. Temerity is not a trait he holds and the Chapter Ten is to some extent over played routine as the form sometimes lapse into but thoroughly entertaining so badges all round if not Oscars.  Though maybe Sam should get one for the very, very real depiction of an empathetic character with limited choices (the character has little of life’s reward’s) to show.  They come across as a bounty.


John Graham

29 September 2016


On at QFT Belfast from Friday 29 October until 6 October 2016.


Also at selected Cinemas and on various formats and outlets.

Captain Fantastic : A Film Review

Directed by Matt Ross.  USA. English. Duration 118mins. Cert. 15.

Produced by Monica Levinson, Jamie Patricof, Shivani Rawat, Lynette Howell Taylor. Written by Matt Ross.

Cast. Viggo Mortensen as Ben Cash, George MacKay as Bodevan, (18 and eldest child) Samantha Isler as Kielyr, Annalise Basso as Vespyr, Nicholas Hamilton as Rellian, Shree Crooks as Zaja, Charlie Shotwell as Nai, Kathryn Hahn as Harper (Aunt), Trin Miller as Leslie (Mom), Steve Zahn as Dave (Uncle) Elijah Stevenson as Justin, Teddy Van Ee as Jackson, Erin Moriarty as Claire, Missi Pyle as Ellen, Frank Langella as Jack (Leslie’s father) Ann Dowd as Abigail (Leslie’s mother.)

Music by Alex Somers, Cinematography Stéphane Fontaine, Edited by Joseph Krings.

Unconventional hero figure
Viggo Mortensen gets first mention as the lead here simply because he dominates in presence and acting terms this canon of an an idealised future being trammeled by ‘our’ present concepts for living.  He has as his ammunition a brood of six young adults he is intent into shaping into extraordinary adults regardless of what is set in front of him.  I last remember Mortensen from the Patricia Highsmith adapted movie The Two Faces of January which took the familiar rogue elements of her stories and created a decent drama thriller.  It also needs mentioning as a veteran his first break was in the Amish thriller Witness, the unique folk-tome film with Harrison Ford, Kelly Maginnis. There is also (The History of Violence, Eastern Promise, Lord of the Rings – [Aragorn] – and The Road).

What a place to live.

Circumstances dictate Ben Cash played by Viggo Mortensen and the 6 kids, who are aged from six to eighteen, are away from Mom who shares the unconventional home-learning, wilderness approach to child rearing. It sets out with an overview of the massive, clear oxygen filling forest followed us dropping into the pin straight vertical pines and finding our protagonists, Swiss family Robinson on steroids, in a hunting mode all silent and unseen unlike their prey. Once mission achieved they perform the tasks of – a tad clichéd to begin – of utilising their prize and then they clean off in a river returning to the look of normal kids.  There are then campfire bonding, books come out, reading and story setting scenes giving us the ideas of hard learning, maintaining discipline and a wandering dialogue, discourse involving their interests of literature, music, science, spirit all openly discussed. Individual charactaturesxof the children are opened up – one of the middle children is a natural history fiend salvaging all kinds of cast off animal skulls and in a personalized tepee has his own museum developing.  They live in what are basically sheds with tepees on top in true rustic environmentally recycling style.  No bears come and visit them so they might have a off putting aroma unless the bears are in on the philosophy.  Viggo Mortensen has said he regards this role as one of the most complex emotionally he has encountered – a clear justifiable assessment – and the story just begins here around this campfire while we are given the circumstances they find themselves in presently which entail them planning to go on a road trip. After the process of democracy has chosen what to do they set out in Bens’s school bus come camper to the freeways to take them cross country to Washington, it would seem. On route they rub up against forms of authority, informative training excercise said not the fallback of most youngsters are implemented, and several comedic episodes enter.

A weapon chosen is Jesus – with the irony present – not a spoiler as we learn fairly soon of their rejection of organsised spiritual adherence – which they employ under strict parental control as a unit to deflect and dismiss interfering eyes.  It is the tactic in use with most American Evangalism hiding behind a contradictory juxtaposed strait jacket form of religion.  Take West Chigago presently where after a decade of gun crime receding but a remaining threat, the problems of social and racial division have once again spiked.  It is a recurring theme.  Even in East London on the day I seen this film a band of Black protesters came up with the idea of passive protest by crossing the Thames and chaining themselves together on Londons second airport runway at City Airport against the proposal to further intensify environmental degradation in the boroughs around the Airport with additional runways.  The premise being it was these areas that suffer most from the transport hubs enlargement as opposed to rural peripheral locations which could be developed except they are in ‘protected’ constiuencies.

So this is another change of direction given it is a family orientated, though 15 rated – possibly due to strong language, the realism of the hunting, his sans clothes in a brief encounter, and the campfire boldness of topics for his six to eighteen year old brood to confront.  Sexual politics and the other politics occupy this Pacific North-West raw isolated left-wing gang of survivors. From a base initially of Boulder, Colorado, they have moved on – (a place Maggie Thatcher – remember her, adored) and which I attribute to those slightly less ambitious migrants who declined to travel into the place known as California and sat it out near the mountains and freshest nature.  Now the hash state of America.  It never features; the family have long since moved on with Mom ditching a Law career to experiment or invest in burgeoning beliefs with Ben up on this coast and massive forest corner of the Americas.  North East was afflicted with tribalism and Pirates as a staple somewhere and George Washington convinced himself the mix was too ‘refined’ there – North East so began a Social contract of sorts with federalism, did it work out – Bush, Regean, Clinton, Obahma, and where is Donald Trump in this?  Ben on his missions I have just realised gets to play his Scottish bagpipes – a trick not yet mastered by the maternally Scottish Donald. Donald MacDonald?

Mortensens choice

The script deeply warmed to him and he has described it as one of the best he has read.  Civilisation is not his perception nor the writer Matt Ross’s but is that word people ascribe to our vulture, dog eat dog also trammeled world, especially present in America were people in some quarters find little time for their real life’s and down time while spinning someone else’s wheels.  Radical in concept it is immediately in the first few frames showing us the human is still master and the animal kingdom has its place.  Usually in front of a weapon, usually a knife (it avoids the controversy of the right to bear arms question by ignoring guns or possibly making the point through their absent of other means to kill – still only for the animal kingdom.)  Or on a campfire roasting spit envincing wild terrain living. Very Unscandinavian or is it?  As a New Yorker despite his ‘mis-placed’ Scandinavian image and name, he at fifty seven, has been able to make choices in a place were movies can accompany his creative other interests, art, poems, music.  He owns Perceval Press Publishing.  Celina Murphy of the Irish Daily Star Chic weekend magazine got to meet him in Dublins Westbury Hotel and not only did she turn out a great article she saw much depth and elements singular to Vitto as he ‘fits the story’ instead of the usual ‘not because I do something that’s on its own remarkable’ a nuance which includes the possibility of all elements coming together to create a wonder oust blend as they do here.  It is ‘family’ grow your own kids, keep fit, work with your environment. This is also accessible Comedy/Drama and finding it alongside Little Miss Sunshine in its vibe it brings the importance of the realm of ‘education’ to the fore.

Is the dreamer right?

Not only does the question lie with Captain Fantastic, it traverses the parameters, limits, preordained alliances within that most difficult of all jobs, raising children. This film is very taut and focused on this subject on account of the Director/Actor Matt Ross constructing – and all the ‘kidults’ are superb – alongside the stellar in performance if not widely accepted elsewhere – from Frank Langella, Kathryn Hahn, and British actor George McKay.  In other words they haven’t the profile deserved time after time.  Utterly a confrontational set of circumstances exist by way of the absence of mechanisms others; most of the western and increasingly eastern world, rely on to avoid them. It is thoroughly challenging and suggesting the education of children (which it is) being fundamental to they way the earth and people sustain existence as far into the future as realisable.  Curriculum, Curriculums are the nastiest things adults inflict on children and despite the advanced Scandinavian models, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark; Viggo Mortensen, though not in the role play as this is distinctly feral, and others may suggest as being excellent even excelling – the future itself needs more than simply this ‘social contract’ to manage things towards the future the earth spells out in reaction daily.

Pursuit of joy.

Happiness has a cause and a reaction. It is inevitably a political question. See the late, often LSE quoted, political theorist Ghiri Ionescu – my go to modern philosopher on The Pursuit of Happiness. I don’t quite know the implications by any stretch, but it is within the frame of the film and most people’s minds always.  Harmony is digression if learning is conflicting thoughts, projections.  This arc disapates hang ups on the familiar filmic route but nevertheless has itself tied to actions and consequences resulting in, as we share the journey which is a mission here, an ending or payoff which is full of contradictory expectations.  Skillfully crafted it indeed calls on the viewers own collective experiences growing up – after 15 (Cert.) your grown up yes? – as you may empathise with either one of the 6 exuberant, thoughtful, dynamic intellects of these ‘kidults’ who wipe the floor with their age group in practical, physical and mindfulness unwanted time.  So which one were you – slightly?  Which would you have liked to be or even befriend to help?  Comedy introduces plot comparisons with encounters of kids of their age, even a rite of passage nearly if flawed as its rushed preposterously in character but rushed. There is also an introduction to Metropolis (Washington) life.  The way other people live and they make acerbic comment, on overweight over indulgent – Ben describes them as involved in ‘frenzied shopping’.

On an Awayday; on the central mission, I would only spoil the plot by revealing to you, they have a kind of ‘Labor Day holiday’ dedicated to the writers Matt Ross’s hero who will be nameless although Esperanto was an interest of theirs along with related things.  Indeed words are essentiall y a device cleverly utilised in the story.  So interesting is given the low rating of being a non-word.  The hero likewise was and is of a similar stance.  Platos republic is a bit too far distant – along with Marxism and Moaist theory to be of permanent import, important reference points but ‘bad cheese’ new cultures arise, evolve – my view – as Ben is forever trying to penetrate the cerebral cortex of these juveniles ŵith his and absent Moms philosophy rather introspectively and self developmentally.  Both Ben and Lesley have the same ideals.  If only someone told them the Bill of Rights came from a malcontented genius called Thomas Paine, from Lewes, Sussex, whose own conflicts were crippling as these might sometimes seem availing towards.

Conclusion #### 4 1/2

This is an immensely challenging emotionally sharp film about that most difficult job in the world – many parents would say the most difficult they’ve tackled – the raising of their children. Unparalleled and individual as each child is they are at the mercy of their family beliefs and parental guidance however gathered. Cultural, imposed, with or without proper context or grounding.   This then is a complex conflict undertaken by the parents of the 6 siblings evenly gender divided, evenly age divided, and under the shared values system a capable set of ‘kidults’ as their consciousness is opened to the true nature of reality insofar as they are exposed to it by their guardians.  Viggo Mortensen for reasons that evolve from the introduction to the story takes the primary share of the tutelage but shared with their mother Trin Miller as Leslie Cash.  The entourage whose names are listed at the top could easily have individual essays eerie ten about given the fine form of the writing while the eldest, George MacKay as Bodevan has a blistering performance to match the intensity of Viggo Mortensens charismatic, fully charged characterisation of the ‘best father’ construct.  Also entitled to another these net is the other father, Frank Langella as Jack (Leslie’s father) Ann Dowd as Abigail (Leslie’s mother.) Their existence within a New Mexico gated community sets up the other extreme of experience for the children and their input is intensely convincing also in the rounding of the narrative.  This is a very rewarding watch and gives plenty of room to evaluate the times and fragilities of education, upbringing and faces challenges which arose in many people’s lives regardless of plans.  As John Lennon put it ‘Life is what happens when your making plans.’
John Graham

7 September 2016


On at QFT BELFAST from 9 September to 22 September 2016 and selected cinemas elsewhere.

Well worth a viewing.

Week 40 – Una Knox – October 5-11

Let me guess this is simply imperious.

fig-2 loyalty card


fig-2_40_50_2When you enter the room the first thing you see is that all of the walls have been drawn into the centre of the space and bound together. The Fig-2 mobile wall structures and book shelves that usually delineate a space within the room have been wrapped up together, and there is nowhere to hide.

fig-2_40_50_4Whether deliberately or intuitively Sylvain Deleu’s photos don’t zoom in on the the central structure but show it surrounded by the exposed space of the studio — balancing the tight compression at the centre with the openness around it. This arrangement has an unsettling effect. Artist Una Knox notes that in drawing things together you illustrate the potential for, or the inevitability of, the opposite: all things will break apart.

unaknoxpvThis is the context of coming to Fig-2: these shows are brought together for seven days and then blown apart. For Week 40 of…

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The Idol : A Film Review

The Idol

Director. Hany Abu-Assad.  Writers. Hany Abu-Assad, Sameh Zoabi. Cast. Tawfeek Barhom, Ahmed Al Rokh, Hiba Attalah, Kais Attalah, Abdel Kareem Barakeh Running Time 1h 40m Genres Biography, Comedy, Drama, Music.

From left, Ahmad Qassim, Qais Atallah and Hiba Atallah in Hany Abu-Assad’s “The Idol.” Credit Adopt Films.

It has a beginning, a middle and an end.

We’re introduced to Assaf (Qais Attallah) as a kid in Gaza, alongside sister Nour (Hiba Attallah) and their friends, Ahmad and Omar (Ahmad Qassim; Abdalkarim Abubaraka). My film ‘poster’ (I make them up from the publicity photos) still is the same Assaf but in 2012 driving a self – enterprising cab to make a living.  He has now reached a level where the harsh realities and day to day existence is for everyone, save one or two including a cameo character played by the Director, showing even war zones have demigods those who prey on their own citizens to live engrandised life’s – very basic.  The early years are full of vitalality and the story begins with a young quartet. Above. They try to form a group around Assaf and have plans to obtain proper instruments and use that scarce commodity, electricity, to perform everywhere. 

These kids act extraordinarily well.  Initially there aren’t some stilted moments but quickly the foot races, the cheeky episodes and funny lines come thick and fast as they negotiate live among their peers.  The picture of the families is built, their ordinary lives of going to school and other kids playing.  There is a lot of running and jumping. Minor scrapes end up as foot races.  Other kids run through frames, building, gap, drop jumping in a running line.  The expanse of the environment thus explored as a source of freedom and expression of self.

1. Assaf (Qais Attallah) teenage years of forming a band full of hope and charged with disappointment and despair escape one way or another. Help from musicians. 

2. Assaf (Tawfeek Barhom – a big presence and talent) as a University student and artist.  The stagnation of a middle period where bombing has yet again intensified (2012) and the attempts to reach a goal is stop/start with the first step being to get to the Palestine Idol auditions. 

3. Assaf (still Tawfeek with intersected at the apogee of the star making TV footage of the real Assaf.)

Film achievements

Early Hany Abu-Assad films Academy nominated were Paradise Now (2005), about two would-be suicide bombers and Omar (2013), love story thriller drama about Palestinian collaborators and Israeli intelligence handlers. This also – while entirely different from his earlier films and PG rated to achieve a global viewing, is similar in ways to Stand by Me, 1986, Rob Reiner.


Gaza is under seige and there is a strip of sea bordered by a fence between towns along the beautiful coast. The blockade from ’07 and the heavy bombardment from the 2008-09 Israeli assault on Gaza are clear.  The towns standing at the end of theses fences, stand as signatures of the living but also of post conflict survival and precedes more wanton destruction by the Israelis.  The countryside which itself is drained of water by the Israelis for their own use and to create monopolies in agricultural markets (figs) each season, is a rare source of food but it is in a strip of imprisonment and suppression which is enforced so the Israelis can wipe out an entire race.  There are currently just over 50% of the population under 18 and the older generation have paid an enormous price for their faith to Islam and Mohammed  – and the Jewish faith have effectively signed the declaration of intent for Isis and other factions who do not agree with peace as the means to survive according to the Koran but subvert – as the Jewish faith do through imposition, force and suppression of democracy – they laud their own standards of democracy while denying it and their own obligations to their neighbours – through these lands. They allow freedom of expression within sects but denegrate differences between those sects.

Do not forget this film is based very much on fact. Ask why it is made.  Ask what the people of Gaza feel and how these small elements stand up for equality and freedom in such horrendous circumstances and this juxtaposition is political and a voice.  It only altered for the sake of moral proprietary some scenes for dramatic flow.  The same is a continuous process within the UN with non-enforcement of mandates, and USA in cohort with western capatilist nihilism.  All produce the raw component of war here with a vast array and arsenal of weapons.  This film creates a backdrop which puts aside nations leaders and global manipulations making wealth and enormous gains through continued warfare, for the same ‘bread and circuses’ sideline distractions as the only means of expelling the despair.  The west makes an entirely falsified world out of it with sports, non-religious worship, ownership, greed and avarice games, extremes of entertainment for the masses.  The infiltration is The Idol – the TV antenna as well as showing atrocities from other parts of the world – along with environmental ruin – shifts inside the meagre domestic lives of the Gazians. 

Stark reality  PG rated.

It is particularly crazy to be attempting to depict this film in measures or indices of the film industry market.  Viewers and providers.  The network of access to films is burgeoning.  I have been to Palestinian events recently and seen around ten hours of Gaza related film material.  The last was a late visit to the film Death in Gaza. The death, one of many, that of James Millar a filmaker who was shot by an Israeli soldier in the Gaza Strip. What the Israeli was doing in Gaza with a gun except for powering the cycle of violence, is beyond explanation moral or otherwise.  The journalist is a witness as witnesses exist throughout mankinds presence on earth.  


Here we have a film witnessing the Gazians imitating the West in their route of escapism with a jury SMS telecoms driven lavish piece of television theatre where star makers sit – the Simon Cowell formula – buy it up pop music and sell it back to them – and create stardust.  This version of idolatry is Sphinx like. The tombs of Egypt must be rattling with envy of how elevated such trivial things can become hyped.  The bejeweled Nefrititi is twinkling in the heavens looking down.  The borders crossed being the flow of human emotion centered on inner contentment shown brazenly and without irony.  The difference here in this Middle eastern culture, is that from the beginning the essence of the singing is based in distant long carried folk and traditional voice narratives.  In fact the Opera house is mentioned several times as an aside given the level expected of any performer. Ululating, wailing is one form of vocalising, singing used to evoke situation, emotion, will, and Assaf uses his skills by being hired for prayers in Mosques.  The quartet need money and they scour the edges – of the sea for fish to sell, then one keyboards player -see below right! – who obtains through the tunnels to Egypt, hamburgers and buns, starts his own fast food mobile business with apologies to ‘Mockdonalds’.

Initially we see the relatively carefree but street wise children open up to their vision of an alternative future.  Within families girls will sometimes wear or not the Hijab according to their own minds.  The dress is mainly western influenced but it is a’uniform of mutual poverty’.  In – and we visit hospital for a number of related, unrelated things, – the Doctors, we have very determined, driven morally guided, workhorses of survival, balancing with no judgement the fate of strangers and in circumstances where nothing is normal, in basic conditions.  Beds are arranged as all hospitals but with a scarcity of equipment around wards and are shared between the ages and genders.  The nurses wear Hijabs and the hospital is home to some terminally ill and has modern equipment in parts dealing with the worse of cases.

Assaf is not immune to this in his childhood and while nothing is shown by way of the aftermath of bombing or incoming fire these people struggle daily with the everyday things and every family is touched by some unwelcome fate.

They ride their bikes like many kids though this is ordinary Gaza and a prison.

The escape is a task which must overcome the imprisonment and blockade.  I won’t go any further and expand on the tale obviously has global coverage even before the film.  A British newscaster tells the story in the film itself!

So go see and be a witness.

Conclusion. #####5

Since last year when I saw Timbuktu a film of very similar political scope if entirely different in subject matter – it portrays childrens plight in these times though – I have not been so deeply drawn along with the expanse of film making, as it stepping outside the normality, by its constructive insicive informative composition/construction.  The story is not incidental but it carries a very strong message of the fate of a people distraught and also living hopefull of change.  That alone is extraordinary given what has happened.  The film will not disappoint you and reward any reasoning with the issues. You will perhaps not have as strident opinions as myself, have different views and I place this review as only a mere side discussion on the massive problems.  There is much arising however which may not have occured to you as indeed it hadn’t occured to me – the cultural basic retention present within the Palestinian people of their unique place within themselves – the way that Western culture has created ways of enticing people into its ‘snare’.  So it will cause many varied reactions.  It has very sad notes and is emotionally strong with very solid performances.  The film introduces Assafs sister Nour who is a star of the film played by Hiba Atallah.  She is brilliant in the role and faster in her wits and on her feet than some of the boys.  Plenty to recommend.

John Graham 

10 August 2016


On at Queens Film Theatre Belfast from Friday 10 August through to and including Thursday 18 August 2016.

Also known as Ya Tayr El Tayer.

Highly recommended.

This is exile : A Film Review


For The Save the Children Fund to explain the current situation in just one location in human terms and to provide a focus on the problems and seemingly indifferences to resolving the displacement of many they have undertaken to produce this documentary. This is exile.

The largest refugee crisis in the world is without question currently, the Exodus of Syrian people from their homes to places of apparent safety.  These places are first location states of displacement.  Some are actually within Syria and on the border with for example Lebanon.  Others are actually in Lebanon and are transit camps of massive size largely run by NGO’s UNHCR can be classified as such given no one Government holds sway and is a joint International aid response alongside more removed NGO’s such as Save the Children and Red Cross.

The scale is horrendous.  4,000,000 have been displaced in Syria and over 2,000,000 of them are children.  Of those about seventy percent would be classified as unaccompanied, meaning they are only with a family or group because they rendered assistance and helped them move through places to reach a ‘place of safety.’  Many children have not made it and their story and plight is an unknown.  Families are separated and the location or survival of parents is unknown in the majority of cases.

The film opens with a picture of wide open spaces with distant snow capped montainscand rough ragged terrain barely manageable as argicultural land and thereby in the main uninhabited.  It conveys the size and scale of Syria.  The relative peace is juxtaposed with convoys of trucks and a virtual caravanseri of displaced people.  It is as if a new nomadic race has been there and seasonal movements are taken but this is the deception.  This place is open land and inhospitable and a likely target for Jets to bomb given the movements through Syria of pockets of Diash (Isis) who also up use the convoys as cover for their own purposes.

 Our question is – How to we take in unaccompanied Children refugees, provide them with a safe environment, to restart their education, to give them freedom to express themselves, create opportunities to assimilate, learn languages, contribute to the society they are in, to become healthy peaceful human beings and finally enable them to assert their sense of their own identity in relation to their birthplace and to establish connections again with their families and obtain the truth together with justice for their plight and flight.

 Politics = Wisdom.      That believe it or not is its goal and purpose.

The Department for Health and Social Services has created a set of protocols to manage the few numbers of Unaccompanied children but with the size of the problem so vast it must engage in constructing a new set of principles and accords which equate with our own freedoms and establish accommodation models which international aid can be found to finance new build and monitoring staff and observers who will work on programmes equating as closely as possible to our and their expectations.  An aspect of this could be I would suggest members of the refugee community working alongside specialist Social workers, care providers, to guide, report, implement procedures which are workable and cut out layers of bureaucracy and hinderances.  There is sufficient capacity; there are so many unemployed, there are so many willing to help and put down from wherever it comes, racial hatred, prejudices of many diverse kinds and also to rote to against internal race on race exploration, control and bullying.

The film

This Is Exile: Diaries of Child Refugees is an extraordinary, intimate portrait of the lives of child refugees forced to flee Syria’s civil war.

The documentary tells children’s stories in their own words, capturing the moving truth of how they deal with the loss and hardship of living in exile from their homeland.

This is Exile was funded by friends of Save the Children and filmed in Lebanon by the Emmy-award winning director Mani Benchelah.

Made by the independent production company Make Productions, the film offers an uncompromising portrayal of refugee children’s experiences.

Holding your own screening.

If you’d like to hold your own screening of This is Exile, please download our screening pack, which contains information, step-by-step instructions and discussion points. You could also collect donations for our Syria appeal from those attending. To request a DVD, contact us on

A newsdeeply interview with Director Mani Benchelah.

From war-torn homes to near permanent refugee status, Syrian children in Lebanon are living in a situation of never-ending insecurity, award-winning film-maker Mani Benchelah tells Syria Deeply. His film provides an intimate view into the lives of a generation whose world has been turned upside down.

Told in their own voices, the film allows these children, who have already at such a young age witnessed violence and atrocities the likes of which most will never see, to tell their own story.
The film is a beautifully crafted insight into the human cost of Syria’s ongoing civil war, which has forced more than four million people – half of whom are children – to flee the country.
The U.N.’s refugee agency estimates there are more than one million Syrian refugees registered in Lebanon – a number equal to a quarter of the country’s population – but the number is likely closer to more than 1.5 million.
Nearly five years into the conflict, the fighting in Syria only seems to be getting worse, and as fall quickly turns to winter across the Middle East, many of the children featured in Benchelah’s film are facing a chilly winter in tents in unheated buildings across Lebanon.

WRITTEN BY Dylan Collins   For 

Syria Deeply caught up with Benchelah last weekend before his film screened at the annual BBC Arabic Film Festival. In four bloody years, over four million people have fled Syria to neighbouring countries. More than half of the refugees are children who have experienced both the brutality of war and the painful insecurity of exile. Most Syrians believed their escape would be temporary. They hoped to return to their homes when the bombs stopped falling, when schools opened again, when the violence ended. Few predicted their exile would last years, and potentially decades.

The interview

Syria Deeply: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to make this film?

Mani Benchelah: I’m a film-maker now. I used to live in Syria, years ago, in the 90s. I went there to formally study Arabic. So, in 2011, when the uprising started, I decided I wanted to find a way to get in and to report from where the uprising was taking place. I was originally working as an independent photographer. After a few weeks in Damascus, I found a way to sneak into Homs and to report on the ongoing repression and civil uprising. That was in October and November of 2011.
I went back to Syria in February 2012 when the fighting started to be much more intense. I was still working as a photographer – for Le Monde this time – but I also started to film. I stayed a month there, in Homs again and some surrounding areas, documenting what was going on. That led to some new photography work and a film, entitled The Horror of Homs (UK Channel 4). I continued working as a filmmaker in Syria after that. I kept coming back – mainly to the Homs area.
At a certain point though, it became impossible for me to get back in. Too many of my colleagues were getting killed and kidnapped. This is about the same time the refugee crisis started to become a pressing issue in the surrounding countries, and obviously for the Syrian population. When I was in Syria, interviewing children was never a main focus of mine, but it was an underlying issue that kept coming back. It became clear pretty quickly that children were a huge chunk of the refugee population. And, because obviously they will become the new ruling generation some day, it’s important to focus on what’s happening to them and what their prospects for the future are. Around this time, I was contacted by Save the Children to make a film about children – I chose Lebanon because of the numbers and the pressing issues for refugees there. So yeah, I guess that’s how it all started.

Syria Deeply: So could you give us a brief overview of your film?

Mani Benchelah: The film is a series of portraits of Syrian children living in Lebanon as refugees, who came with their families. I followed them throughout a year, coming back to Lebanon every three months or so, following the evolution of their lives. It’s filmed in various areas in Lebanon, some in the southern suburbs of Beirut, like the Shatila refugee camp, some in the Beqaa Valley, some in Arsal, other parts are in Tripoli. The children were all of different ages, from about 7 to 16 or so.
Initially, as I met them in early 2014, the idea of returning home to Syria was still realistic in their mind. Many of them had just arrived over the previous year, most had only been there for a few months or weeks even. They thought they were there [in Lebanon] momentarily, and then they would soon head home. But as the year passed and months went by, the prospect of going home became more and more remote, and the difficulties of having to adapt to this new reality started to become their reality.
The film really isn’t very optimistic. Most refugees flee the war with the idea that it will be a temporary measure they must take in order to find shelter from the violence and that they’ll return home as soon as possible, but as the war seems to be never-ending, this prospect becomes more and more remote. This is a general reality for most refugees – not just Syrians, actually. Most of them never return home, and often end up in some kind of limbo situation as refugees for years and years. The temporary refugee status becomes permanent.
And when we think of refugees in Lebanon, I mean obviously you can’t help but think about the Palestinians, who’ve been there for over 60 years. They, too, left home with this same idea – that they’d return home sooner rather than later. Camps made of tents become neighborhoods, and they start pouring concrete and they become new parts of the cities, like Shatila and Sabra. It’s the same in Pakistan for the Afghani refugee population that has been living there for years and years now, and the same in Africa for refugee populations that cross a border and five years later, 10 years later, they are still there.

Syria Deeply: So in terms of your year or so of experience with the Syrian refugee population in Lebanon, what are the largest issues they are facing?

Mani Benchelah: I mean, I focused on the children, so for them, the main issue is education and access to health. And obviously, just being able to provide a stable environment and adequate food. Mostly though, it’s access to education and access to health. It’s very complicated for Syrian children. Even if the Lebanese authorities, with the help of the U.N., have launched programs, they’re only able to reach a small percentage of the kids.
And many many kids are dropping out of school. They’re impoverished. Their families have no income. They need the teenagers to start working. Many of the kids I was following had to drop out of school to help support their families over the year I spent with them. Others simply had no access to schools because they were too far from a school or they weren’t living in a refugee camp, and even the schools in the camps weren’t proper schools.
Syria Deeply: Over the year you spent, is there any particular moment that stuck with you as an explicative
Mani Benchelah: Every child I followed highlights an aspect of the overall plight. For example, one of the young teenagers I was following had to drop out of school despite his deep desire to learn, to continue studying and to someday go to college. It was a tipping moment when he realized he really couldn’t continue learning. It was, for me, a moment indicative of so many other Syrian children who simply cannot continue their education.
For others, the situation in Lebanon itself was the story. They fled violence in Syria to find safety in Lebanon, and after months living in a somewhat more stable and peaceful situation, the violence found them again. Militants connected to ISIS crossed the Lebanese border into the city of Arsal in 2014 while I was working there, so there were clashes between the militants, Hezbollah and the Lebanese army, and for the children I was following, the war had started again. They couldn’t escape. The psychological trauma they’d lived with in Syria started to reappear. It is a never-ending insecurity they are living with. They are children, so they don’t differentiate between who is who – it’s just another situation of an armed man that keeps on following them and trying to kill them. Or like [President] Bashar al-Assad is like some kind of monster man who is following them…like the Boogie Man or something.
One of the children had the chance to relocate to Europe with her family, and was able to start a new life in Switzerland. She’s among the very, very few who’ve been granted relocation through UNHCR [the U.N.’s refugee agency]. So, at least for her, her prospects for the future were much more optimistic. She was very optimistic when she arrived in Switzerland and realized that she had turned a page and that Syria was completely behind her. But her story is only indicative of a very small minority of the Syrian refugees. It re-emphasizes how grim the prospects are for most Syrians in Lebanon.

Syria Deeply: From where you stand, what is the most pressing issue facing the global community when it comes to Syrian refugees?

Mani Benchelah: More countries should be willing to take in refugees. In terms of the girl I just mentioned who managed to make it to Switzerland with her family, the only reason they were granted relocation is because she had been paralyzed after being hit by shrapnel while she and her family still lived in Syria. There are many kids who have similar cases that haven’t been granted the same opportunity. There should be more legal ways specifically for those refugees who are in such a vulnerable situation, particularly so that they’re not forced to make the journey illegally. I was in Greece less than a month ago, and you keep on seeing refugees who you would hope could be granted asylum or at least have their case considered. These are families traveling with handicapped kids … but if you look at the numbers of refugees compared with the number of actual relocations, it’s nothing. If you look at the number of asylum seekers most states in Europe and in the Gulf are taking, the gap is enormous. There are literally millions living in this limbo type of situation, and winter is coming

Repair the childrens minds.  All of us share the blame for allowing the damage to happen.

John Graham

23 June 2016


Most of this blog is a repost of the  Syria deeply interview and excerpts taken from the Save Children Fund site.
About the Author
Dylan Collins

Dylan Collins is an independent journalist based in the Middle East since 2010. His work has appeared with The Guardian, Al-Jazeera America, Al-Jazeera English, Syria Deeply and L’Espresso among others. Follow him on Twitter: @collinsdyl