The Underworld (Photo: still from official film on YouTube
CAIRO - 2 July 2017: British teacher Aphra Evans organized a six-week program called The Refugee Film Project, which voices the lives of Syrian refugees in Beirut through six short fiction films. One of the films, “The Underworld,” was released earlier this year.
The film revolves around a Syrian family whose father brags about giving his son, Mahmoud, all his money as inheritance after he dies as he looks down on his daughter. The drama film depicts the sister’s encounter of a life-changing situation that takes place in an unreal world and will help in preventing her brother from spending all the family’s fortunes recklessly.
Mahmoud turns mortally ill and his sister returns to the underworld to save her brother’s life; the scene is filmed in black and white.
Uploaded on YouTube in March, the six-minute film is a part of Evans’ project, in which she decided to bring young Syrians in front of the camera lens to film the reality of their daily lives.
Evans was supported by SB Overseas; an organization that aids refugees on three main levels: education, empowerment and emergency aid. The organization is empowering a refugee camp in Beirut called Shatila.
Featuring an entire cast of children, the short film was produced through cooperation with Shyam Jones, a professional cameraman and filmmaker who worked with Evans and 20 children aged between 9 to 15 years old, the National reported on June 18.
Evans and Jones have brainstormed ideas for films with the children and refugees who came up with film ideas based on their lives including bullying, problems with security and money, land invasion that are all inspired by the war-dominated Syria.
As children were the most important on-set, adults were working on a feature documentary that revolves around the children’s lives in the camp through interviews with children, their parents and teachers. The documentary is expected to be released next year and screen at film festivals in Europe.
Evans has previously approached the refugees located in Lebanon through a volunteering program hosted by SB Overseas that aims to assist those Syrian refugees to partake the Lebanese public school system according to The Film Refugee Week official Facebook page.
She described through a statement on the Facebook page the resilience of the children facing adversity as they lead their lives in Shatila refugee camp which Evans described as ‘Dangerous slum’.
Following her volunteer program, Evans returned to Lebanon to carry out the project with the children she met in the camp where she partnered with filmmakers to help the children write scripts and direct their own films which Evans considers a healing process.