The Long Season
Multi-award-winning filmmaker Leonard Retel Helmrich (Shape of the Moon, Position Among the Stars, SFF 2011) focuses his camera lens on life in a Syrian refugee camp.
Just across the border from Syria, Majdal Anjar in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley is a sprawling, ramshackle collection of shelters. Helmrich spent over a year there filming, with his female collaborator Ramia Suleiman, steadily gaining the trust of his subjects. The duo filmed mothers battling to keep their children fed, clothed and educated, bickering wives and husbands, and young women bemoaning their loss of freedom. With his trademark single shot technique (utilising fluid camera movements to shoot a scene in one take), Helmrich captures the resilience of the refugees with tenderness and compassion, particularly the womenfolk, as they face an uncertain future.
Putting faces and voices to the anonymous millions, Helmrich draws us into the daily lives of individuals who, over the course of the film, start to feel as familiar as characters in our favourite television dramas. – Allan Hunter, Screen International
The film reveals a community working together to provide support and guidance to one another, and showing deep compassion. ‘They were already open to the shooting, and so we could build a good relationship with them. That allowed us into these intimate moments, and to make these close shots,’ says Suleiman. ‘The shooting lasted a year and a half. Going there regularly and having this relationship with them I think sometimes allowed us to catch the kind of moment normally you can’t have’. – Sophie Brown, Sight & Sound