On February 23, Duke screened "On the Bride's Side" in the Richard White Auditorium on East Campus.
In the award winning documentary, a Palestinian poet and an Italian journalist meet five Palestinians and Syrians in Milan who entered Europe via the Italian island of Lampedusa after fleeing the war in Syria. They decide to help them complete their journey to Sweden - and hopefully avoid getting themselves arrested as traffickers - by faking a wedding. With a Palestinian friend dressed up as the bride and a dozen or so Italian and Syrian friends as wedding guests, they cross halfway over Europe on a four-day journey of three thousand kilometers. This emotionally charged journey not only brings out the stories and hopes and dreams of the five Palestinians and Syrians and their rather special traffickers, but also reveals an unknown side of Europe - a transnational, supportive, and irreverent Europe that ridicules the laws and restrictions of the Fortress in a kind of masquerade which is no other than the direct filming of something that really took place on the road from Milan to Stockholm from the 14th to the 18th of November 2013.
This piece was selected for its reflection on the taxing journey refugees undertake, their motivations for doing so, and the humanity of those willing to help. Although the film strikes a lighthearted tone, it lays bare the myriad of obstacles to a refugee in reaching his or her final destination. It also speaks to how an unforgiving system can be composed of or by caring strangers. At a time when Europe's refugee crisis is one of politics' most contentious issues, it is important to show that the stakes are not policy but rather people, and that compassion can be divorced from ideology and still do good.
The film was introduced by Anna Kipervaser, instructor of Arts of the Moving Image at Duke, and was followed by a lively Q&A. This showing was the 3rd installment of this spring's Documenting the Middle East film festival. The event was sponsored by the Duke University Middle East Studies Center (DUMESC), Screen/Society, the Program in the Arts of the Moving Image (AMI), AMES Presents, and Duke University Libraries.