A survivor of the Syrian war, deeply frustrated by her lack of education and the burdens of family life, finds comfort in the company of the horses she lives with and cares for.
Interview with Director Dima Alansari
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Our film is a labor of love. I had just returned to Lebanon from Canada and was spending some time with my family in the Bekaa Valley. That's when I met Reem, the main character of our film. She really stole my heart, and then I met her family. All of them Syrian refugees living and working from our horse stables. I immediately called Eric in Canada. I told him about Reem and the escalating crisis of the Syrian refugee situation in Lebanon. It didn't take long after that. Eric flew to Lebanon and together we embarked on this journey of telling Reem's story. Personally, I felt and still do feel the need to tell the rest of the world what is happening here in Lebanon. I made this film because I knew deep down inside that I had to, it wasn't a choice.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
You should watch this film so that you can understand visually, viscerally and emotionally what it means to be a refugee, to experience loss and to survive. This film, with its naturalistic approach, will transport you to the heart of the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon where you will meet Reem, the survivor and her war-torn family: her sparkling-eyed sisters and heart-broken parents.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
I've always believed that the personal is political and therefore my work naturally reflects this belief. In the case with At Home with the Horses, we focused on universal themes of loss. Personal loss, political loss, the loss of education and ultimately the loss of childhood.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
The film has evolved immensely during the two phases of production and post-production, but mostly it was during the editing that we really struggled with the story development. There were some very hard decisions that Eric and I had to make with regards to the story. We had spent several weeks focusing not only on Reem but also her family.
Each member of her family is dealing with their own personal loss and we had super, amazing, emotional footage of each member talking and both Eric and I wanted to include all of it. We had originally considered a medium length doc at the least. However, as the editing process took over, a process that lasted a few months, we realized that it was Reem's story. In fact, the working title was "Reem's Story". We have hopes of making a full feature of the entire family in the near future.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
The best feedback so far comes from HOTDOCS directly "These two films (referring to At Home with the Horses and another film screened at HOTDOCS) are the reason we make film festivals".
Another one came from a colleague and filmmaker Alex Williams "Beautiful, soulful work, wonderful subjects and lots that was poignantly unsaid".
Also, the cinematography is always complimented and our favorite response is: "It's impossible to shoot anything ugly in the Bekaa Valley"
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
The most challenging feedback was the feedback we received from Beirut at the Karama Human Rights Film Festival which had to do with Reem herself. How to help her? That question kept being proposed to us while we have to make decisions on how much is it ok to interfere with the actual plot of Reem's life. We want to help her but we are filmmakers. We can expose her story and let the world help but we can't actually facilitate her experiences... or can we?
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
We are happy to be featured on We are Moving Stories; it's always exciting and potentially magical for filmmakers to meet new audiences. We are talking about audiences we would not have the potential to meet if it were not for online resources and communities like We are Moving Stories.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
At the end of the day, this is Reem's story and it mirrors the lives of many similar young refugees who are failing the school system due to their inability to quickly learn and keep up with the level of English and French mandatory for all students in Lebanon. Reem is part of a lost generation that will grow up as refugees living in a foreign country with no education and no job prospects. What will this lead to? We are worried that this kind of "ignored issue" will lead to even more disastrous outcomes such as isolation, marginalization, and fanaticism.
We would like funding to turn this film into a feature film so that we can create a bigger impact and tell the full story and create a ripple effect where we can work with NGOs and other organizations to shed the light on these lost children.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
We would like this film to be part of the greater conversation happening in the world right now with regards to human rights and particularly the rights of refugees and children.
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
Eric and I are hoping to create the feature-length documentary mentioned above.
I am also preparing & writing for a fiction short and a feature film.
Interview: May 2018
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series, music video, women's films, LGBTQIA+, scifi, horror, world cinema. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
At Home with the Horses
Length: 16 mins
Director: Dima Alansari & Eric Sanderson
Producer: same as above
Key cast: Reem Al Ibrahim
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists):
Social media handles:
Where can I watch it next and in the coming month?