My friend, in honor of his 40th birthday, rented out a small theater in the Lincoln Center this evening to showcase all of the films he’s produced. Film production is a side project of his, and to date, he’s produced about six different films. Some are as short as nine minutes long, but the latest one that he’s produced is his longest, and I would say his best. It’s a documentary called Refugee, which is about the Syrian refugee crisis across Europe. It follows a Syrian family as they get separated repeatedly during their process to gain legal status in Germany, and it also showcases the conditions of the refugee camps across multiple European borders.

It was a tragic and eye-opening documentary; I’ve read a lot about the crisis, but the visuals are obviously impactful. It’s hard to imagine someone watching this and not being moved by it. While I was watching it, I wondered for all the people who are not for opening their borders and for all the people who are anti welcoming Syrian refugees into their countries… if they watched this and actually saw the disgusting state of the refugee camps and heard the horrific stories of the people who have gone through them and still sit every day waiting for news, if they would change their mind, if just a little. The lives of these people are literally on hold: they cannot work, the children cannot go to school and learn. They’re just waiting for a new life that they may not even get. And most of them just want to die because of how awful their conditions are. I can imagine that many of them will grow up to be resentful of the harsh conditions they had to endure, and of all the people around the western world who didn’t want to give them kindness when they truly needed it most. It is heartbreaking, and for me, it just feels embarrassing as an American citizen.

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