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Brief Film Synopsis:
Dalya's Other Country tells the nuanced story of members of a family displaced by the Syrian conflict who are remaking themselves after the parents separate. Effervescent teen Dalya goes to Catholic high school and her mother, Rudayna, enrolls in college as they both walk the line between their Muslim values and the new world in which they find themselves. A co-presentation with the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM).
Dalya’s Other Country follows my last film The Light In Her Eyes about a Qur’an school for women and girls in Damascus, Syria. On and off from 2005 to 2010 I lived in Damascus and often traveled to Aleppo. Witnessing the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world where ancient trade routes, commerce, and culture were active—despite constraints imposed by the Syrian regime—made a deep impression on me. In 2012, while we were in distribution of TLIHE, the city of Aleppo was in the process of being destroyed by civil war. I wanted to document a family or an individual who was connected to this city. My daughter was born in 2012 and I no longer had the flexibility to travel and leave home as I did for my previous film, so I searched for a way to tell a story about Aleppo from close to home. I met Dalya and her mother Rudayna shortly after they arrived from Aleppo, and knew that I had found a compelling story. Dalya and Rudayna’s move to Los Angeles is not the typical Syrian refugee story that has dominated the news. They are a middle class family with American citizenship; they were not suffering life in a refugee camp or trying to cross the Mediterranean in a raft; but they were nonetheless struggling to adjust to a new culture and the loss of their home. Their story offers a lens into how a traditional Sunni woman and young girl try to hold onto their customs and traditions within the US, which they sometimes perceived as an unwelcoming place. The city that Dalya and Rudayna now inhabit is both familiar and unfamiliar to American viewers. Southern California teenage lifestyle is ubiquitous, but Dalya inhabits a very particular subset of this community—an Arab and Muslim immigrant world. The home life of most Muslims is very private, especially for women. I have been able to shoot with this family over an extended period of time and this has allowed me to get to know them, gain their trust, and gradually understand their issues and challenges in a deeper way. Dalya’s Other Country is made in the tradition of observational cinema, favoring intimate cinematography and an emphasis on placing the audience in close connection with the subject matter. The scenes are edited to immerse the viewers in Dalya and Rudayna’s world and create a human connection with the subjects so audiences understand the world from their perspective.[Source: Julia Meltzer, Press Kit]
Southern Circuit screenings are funded in part by a grant from South Arts, a regional arts organization, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.
© Longleaf Studios 2014