Escaping death: Refugee woman films her journey out of Syria


Over six years of war and Syrians are still suffering the consequences. More than seven million are internally displaced and over 5.1 million have become refugees in neighboring countries.

Others, who are not seeking asylum in neighboring countries such as Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan, are risking everything they have to reach Europe, paying traffickers to help them cross the perilous seas. Many don’t make it, but those who do tell their stories.

Rania Mustafa Ali, a young Syrian woman who was 20 years of age at the time of her escape, managed to document her journey from the bombarded city of Kobane, Syria, to Europe in 2016.

Although you might have seen the struggles of refugees on news reports or read about them in newspapers, this film definitely shows the dangers refugees face and the hardships and terrors they encounter from a first person’s perspective.

It’s a stark reminder of the ongoing tragedy that is the war in Syria, and its effect on the people.

Ali met a Norwegian documentarist and Journalist, Anders Hammer, back when she was still in her homeland. 

Hammer provided her with the equipment needed to document her journey of escape. He also produced and directed the film later on.

Although Ali is not a filmmaker, nor had she ever really filmed anything prior to this experience, she manages to capture viewers’ attention at once.

The film kicks-off at Ali’s home in Kobane, Syria, with the young soon-to-be refugee laughing as she attempts to record her first shot. 

Her smile doesn’t seem to fade away throughout the film. Her beautiful spirit remains evident despite the suffering around her.

Like millions of other young refugees, Ali refuses to accept her hopeless reality. She takes the audience through the rubble of what was the city of Kobane.

“I want to get a future. I’m 20 years old and haven’t done anything in life, I really want to leave Kobane,” she says.

To launch her journey toward a better future, Ali had to pay smugglers a $300-fee to get to a small town in Turkey called Urfa, where she unites with her friend Ayman from Raqqa, Syria.

Together, they start their journey.

Her life stripped down to basic personal belongings such as a passport, her high school certificate, some family photos, and filming equipment wrapped in plastic, Ali risks everything while making her way through the Mediterranean.

On a boat meant to hold 15 people but overcrowded with over 50, Ali is well aware this might be the end.

Rania Ali Syria, film, The Guardian
A shot from Ali’s film Source: l’express

Escape from Syria: Rania’s odyssey – as the lead British newspaper and original publisher of the short, The Guardian, named it – captures the tragedies and sufferings of Syrians seeking refuge.

Cheerful and hopeful, Ali is left in despair toward the middle of her journey, contemplating her decision to leave her hometown in the first place.

The short ends on a vague note when Ali and Ayman are forced to apply for asylum as they are captured by Austrian authorities while on their way to Vienna.

According to the Austrian daily newspaper Kurier, Rania Mustafa Ali is now safe and lives in a shared apartment with Ayman.

“I am safe, but to be honest I feel really lonely,” says the 21-year old Ali who misses her father, four sisters and her brother.

Her family wasn’t able to escape the ongoing war in Syria because her siblings were too young and one of her sisters is physically disabled.

Ali’s mother died of cancer 10 years ago.

She is now trying to integrate into Austrian society but finds it hard to make contact with the people of Vienna.

“They are really nice people but I’m struggling to find a place in the community,” Ali told the Vienna-based daily.

Five times a week she attends German language classes and has applied for a dozen jobs.

Ali, however, is finding it hard to get employed due to her lack of language skills and wants to focus on learning German for now.

Once she has mastered the German language, her aim is to study at a University and become a journalist.

Rania Mustafa Ali has been granted temporary state protection by the Federal Asylum Authority of Austria and is allowed to stay in the country for three years until the fate of her asylum status is decided.

Source: StepFeed


About Author

World Cinema Reports' Editors

Cinema Without Borders' reporters from around the globe search and find international cinema content for our audience. when an outside source is used, we provide you with a link to the original source at the end of the article

Comments are closed.