Yarmouk, a district of the Syrian capital Damascus, was home to more than 100,000 Palestinian refugees. It was not spared during the civil war. From 2013 to 2015, President Assad set siege to the camp, sealing it off from the outside world. Abdallah Al Khatib was born there, in 1989. When he gets hold of a camera, together with friends, he films what he sees.
The once lively streets are now bleak and deserted. Starvation has taken its toll, despite attempts by the UN to address the worst distress. But citizens making their way to a checkpoint in the hope of finding food are chased away with bullets. Al Khatib’s mother Umm Mahmoud, a nurse, visits elderly people. No green plant is left uneaten. Bombs explode in the distance.
Alongside the tragedy, the deaths, and the cries from the hospital, there is also determination and courage. A piano on the street is an invitation to sing together. A crowd of protesters chant, “Break the siege!” The filmmaker also points his camera at children, and asks them about their dreams—with one extended and especially moving scene toward the end of the film. His sometimes poetic voiceovers underscore his sense of engagement with his subject.