This Is Exile: Diaries of Child Refugees

Mani Yassir Benchelah

Intimate, harrowing portrait of children who have fled the violence of the civil war in Syria and now live in refugee camps in neighbouring Lebanon: in the Bekav Valley, close to border town Arsal, and in Shatila, Beirut. Emmy Award winner Mani Yassir Benchelah zoomed in on the children’s daily lives during one year, giving them the opportunity to express, in their own words, how they cope with loss, hardship and broken dreams.

While her little brother is fetching water, Aya confesses how she was pressured by a soldier to give details about her father. Little, stuttering Nouredine, who lived in Homs during the siege, is worried about Assad’s soldiers chasing him everywhere. Thirteen-year-old Layim is vindictive yet eager to help people, for example by handing out food supplies.

Whereas most children hope to one day return home, disabled Fatima seems quite happy after being admitted into Switzerland, where she no longer feels underestimated. Mustafa is keen to study at university, but has to take on a job to feed his family. A microcosmic portrait showing the high toll that the ongoing civil war takes on millions of Syrian refugees, half of whom are children.


Mani Yassir Benchelah
Charly Feldman
Country of production
Lebanon, Switzerland, United Kingdom
56 minutes
Spoken language
Production company
Make Productions
World Sales
Boulder Creek