Jwan is a young man in his early 20ies who wanders the streets of Istanbul whenever he gets some free time to visit his fellow refugees. He listens to their troubles and records their stories with his old camera, which he named “the Eye of Syria.” That camera is the only possession he brought along with him to Turkey when he had to leave his hometown, Aleppo, to get away from the ongoing conflict. Since then, he’s been living and working in a clothing store in Istanbul. His workspace became his new home and his fellow employees, majority of them refugees just like him, became his new family. He’s not complaining even though he only makes 200 Euros a month to survive in one of the most expensive cities in Turkey. At least, he has a place to sleep in and he is safe with his family, he believes.
Just like any other young men, Jwan thinks about the future and has dreams. But unlike his peers, his dreams don’t include any career goals. All he wants in life is peace. He dreams of going back home where he had a simple yet a happy life surrounded by his loved ones. He wants to be able to do ordinary things he never appreciated before like going to school, discussing sports with his friends, dining with his family. And, he believes that “the Eye of Syria” will help him achieve that. He wants to make a film with his recordings to show what this war had cost them and hopes to restore peace in Syria.
We haven’t met Jwan in person but discovered his “big” dream through a short documentary, which features his life: The Boy with Camera by Ibrahim Yesilbas. It was through the New Film Fund that Jwan gained a voice and his story reached out to a broader audience. Co-founded by one of our partners, Anadolu Kultur, an Istanbul based NGOand !F (Istanbul Independent Film Festival), the New Film Fund supports the development, production and post-production of documentary film making in Turkey with a mission to encourage diversity and the free expression of diversity of voices. As the only independent platform, which provides funds to young documentary filmmakers besides the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in Turkey, the New Film Fund awards between $2,000-$10,000 for each selected project. As they support over 30 documentaries each year, they provide young filmmakers an opportunity to address the social and cultural issues that our world faces.
The Boy with Camera is just one of the many films that the New Film Fund supports. There are many other significant stories that you can discover through them such as a documentary that investigates the results of pink taxi service in Jordan, Iran and Pakistan, which deals with the issue of violence against women (Women Only), a film that recites the story of an unknown universe in which ponies are raised as commodities of racing and gambling (The Result Will be Determined by Photo Finish), a documentary about a transgender man struggling with self-realization and acceptance (Blue ID), a film about the difficult experience of an undocumented black migrant women living in Turkey (How Much?), a documentary that ells the story of a quite unorthodox beauty pageant (A Beauty Pageant)… Take a look at the New Film Funds project under Anadolu Kultur’s page to support them in empowering independent filmmakers to give a voice to those who need one. For more information about New Film Fund and the films they support, visit their website.