Life in a Palestinian refugee camp
Wisam Al Jafari was born in the Dheisheh Refugee Camp near Bethlehem (a Palestinian city located in the center of West Bank of the river Jordan). 71 year ago the director’s family has forcibly been resettled from a village called Deir Rafat, located in the south of Jerusalem. Therefore Wisam had no choice but to spend his childhood in the camp. He says: “I still live in the refugee camp. I am surrounded by about 15,000 people who live in a territory of less than one square kilometer. It is a place we all consider to be a temporary shelter until there is an opportunity to return to our homes.” Families from more than 55 Palestinian villages have left their houses, establishing other ways of life due to the current political reality and are now forced to live in extremely complicated conditions without any privacy.
News in Wisam’s camp spread faster than the speed of light. He tells CineSud Magazine that the dwellings of the refugees are situated so close to each other, that you can easily know what your neighbors are cooking and what is the subject of their discussion in the kitchen. It is a crowded area. However, there is some kind of intimacy and spirituality in this place, because people still hope to return. According to Wisam, Palestinians, particularly the young generation, face a great number of difficulties concerning their physical and emotional well-being, such as a lack of job opportunities, the state of frustration and so on. Nevertheless, all of them, guided by aspiration, have motivation and a powerful energy that forces them to realise their dreams from nothing.
Affiliation to the Palestinian ethnonational group has not only influenced Wisam’s philosophy of life, but also left a considerable imprint on his creativity. He is not the only person who expresses the daily routine of refugee camps in filmmaking but he endeavors to do it in a different way, trying to show all the challenges and problems young people have to deal with in order to fulfill their dreams and hopes.