Courtesy of Marco Garofalo.
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OWFF to hold documentary screening, discussion with U of O professor

Although the Syrian refugee crisis may have seemed like the hot topic of 2015, it has in fact been ongoing for almost five years. And in 2014, three filmmakers made a documentary that follows a group of five refugees who escaped Syria in an unusual way—as a fake bridal party.

Directed and written by Antonio Agugliaro, Gabriele del Grande, and Khaled Soliman al Nassiry, On the Bride’s Side tells the story of five refugees who travel to Sweden from Syria in search of a new beginning. The film will be screened at the ByTowne Cinema on Jan. 28 by One World Film Festival (OWFF) and One World Arts, followed by a discussion on the war in Syria and refugee support.

The discussion will feature David Pepper, member of the Refugee 613 steering committee, and founding member of Capital Rainbow Refuge, an Ottawa-based refugee sponsor group that focuses on members of the LGBTQ+ community. The event will also feature Dr. Rouba al-Fattal, a part-time professor of Middle East and Arab politics at the University of Ottawa, and member of the Rotary Club of Ottawa, a humanitarian organization combatting the Syrian refugee crisis.

Al-Fattal was approached by Gerry Schmitz, a volunteer for the OWFF, to be a part of the screening, and after viewing a pre-screening of the movie, agreed to be part of the discussion.

“What I liked about the movie was that it puts things into a human context,” says al-Fattal. “Many movies about refugees are too violent, so they’re difficult to watch, but this movie didn’t have that, which was something I enjoyed.”

The film highlights the difficulties faced by refugees, and the challenges of migrating. Along the journey, the group faces arrest and deportation, while those who come to their aid are almost prosecuted. Aside from political threats to their safety, the group also encounters dangerous travel conditions, such as crossing a cliff using a rope, and climbing through a hole in a border fence.

Al-Fattal believes this movie is of great importance at the moment because it addresses common questions people have about the refugee crisis, such as why these crises start, and what the “human costs” of migrating are.

“It’s important for students to watch this film because the youth are the ones who drive social change,” she says. “They have the energy to act as engines of social change, and can do a lot to help refugees.”

“We share one sky, one nature, one earth. Why are we putting so many obstacles between us?” says al-Fattal.

“There is a new energy in the Canadian government, and we need to keep this momentum going.” Although Canadians, and many other countries around the world, opened their borders and welcomed refugees, there are still hundreds of thousands who will require help in 2016. Through films like On the Bride’s Side, and the work of concerned citizens, Canadian steps appear to be in motion to achieve justice for those in need.

On the Bride’s Side will be playing at the ByTowne Cinema on Thursday, Jan. 28 at 6:45 p.m, followed by a discussion. Tickets are $12.


  • Spring 2022: Desiree Nikfardjam Fall 2021: Zofka Svec 2020-2021: Aisling Murphy 2019-2020: Ryan Pepper 2018-2019: Iain Sellers 2017-2018: Ryan Pepper