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Review: Who We Are (2015)

Director: Eline Helena | 30 minutes | documentary | Featuring: Mariwan Sinjawi,

For her short documentary “Who we are”, filmmaker spent time with two young refugees: 26-year-old Iranian Mariwan and 21-year-old Somali Bushra. They have both been in the Netherlands for quite some time. Without and completely on their own, they both had to flee terrorism at the age of seventeen, trying to build a new life in an unknown country.

Mariwan has been waiting for a residence permit for almost ten years. He’s not the type to give up. He makes art and has built up many social contacts. Mariwan has been on television before, in the program “Faith and a lot of love”. The young artist already speaks quite well. Halfway through the film, his life changes, he receives a residence permit and has to move from The Hague to Ede. A dream come true or is reality disappointing?

The English speaking Bushra misses her mother very much. She feels that her life has stood still for four years. She dreams of becoming a doctor, but now that she has received her residency permit, she can finally take the next step. Like taking swimming lessons. Above all, the young woman seems very lonely, without her beloved family. It is therefore not surprising that she regularly returns to the Vluchtgebouw, because there are peers she knows who live there, with whom she has developed a bond.

“Who we are” alternates the candid conversations with the two sympathetic twenty-somethings and images from their daily lives with dreamy fragments, which seem to come from the past of Mariwan and Bushra (but of course have been staged). In voice-over we hear lyrics addressed to Mariwan’s father and Bushra’s mother, which are about expectations and memories. There is a lot of pain, but also love in those lyrics. Everything expresses the enthusiasm of the filmmaker and “Who we are” is a beautifully made documentary. Unfortunately, not much news is being told on the subject. It would be interesting to see how Mariwan and Bushra will be in a few years’ time. “Who we are in 2020”? Sign us up!

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