Welcome to Canada Short Film Review

Welcome to Canada Short Film Review
©Jamie Street 2016

I was given a much-needed reality check about the war in Syria because of the short documentary film, “Welcome to Canada”. My reality check was given to me by Mohammed Alsaleh who after 120 days of torture left Damascus in search of freedom.

I see the breaking news notifications from my CNN app every day. While I’m at work, sharing videos with friends and family, at church and in my everyday life. I read most of my notifications but then I quickly swipe left and clear them.

I was okay with just “knowing” about the crisis in Syria and in all honesty never read too much on it because it didn’t affect me in any way in my day to day life and activities. “Welcome to Canada” tricked me into caring about Syria.

“Welcome to Canada” is a documentary in which I foolishly believed I would get an explanation as to how I could become a Canadian citizen after the Presidential election in The United States. After writing this statement it has hit me how much I’m into my own American world. Another reality check.

Although I felt tricked into watching the short film, I knew I needed to watch it. The longer I followed and listened to Mohammed Alsaleh’s story the more I was infuriated with myself for not caring more about the Syrian events before.

The reason for my new intriguing interest in Syria is because of Mohammed Alsaleh’s  genuine storytelling. He explains his reasoning behind leaving Syria and taking advantage of the opportunity to seek asylum in Canada.

As easily as I would swipe clear my notifications I could not do the same and exit the film. I wanted to, correction, I needed to, complete Mohammed Alsaleh’s story and learn as much as I could about his current living situation.

Alsaleh begins his story from the moment he left torture to the day he received his call for asylum to Canada from Syria. He shares his story after asylum and his personal thoughts about Syria.

Until his family can be granted asylum, Alsaleh uses his time to help the other refugees find jobs, learn English, and translate for them while they search for apartments. Alsaleh knows English, a language he learned while in school to become a doctor.

Alsaleh’s dream halted, while many Americans (I speak as an American) follow their own dreams in freedom. The way the film is shot is very clear. There are no fancy transitions, animation, or special effects. Just storytelling. That’s all I needed. A great decision made by the directors Adam Loften and Mary Fowles. The cinematography is splendid because what we see is real. We can see the Alsaleh’s family during a FaceTime call. We can watch Alsaleh talk to the other Syrian refugees and translate conversations for them with landlords over living situations. A situation I can relate to with my Hispanic friends and family.

We can associate with Alsaleh while he lights up a cigarette and shares his dilemma and the good news in which Alsaleh is able to help many others who have reached Vancouver but he also shares that he can’t help those who are left behind.

I’m left with happiness that Alsaleh was able to reach me with his story. I’m more grateful for my life and was given the reality check I needed. The mistake I make every day is pretending that these life events don’t matter to me. What I’ve learned is that it doesn’t even matter that the Syrian war doesn’t relate to me.

What matters most is that there are people at war who have no government to help them, in which they believe the war itself is ridiculous yet cannot unite themselves because they would get shot without question even in innocent protests.

I completely ignored these events before but I strongly believe that anyone can influence anyone’s mind with great stories, life experiences, humbleness, and the plain truth and that is what the short film documentary “Welcome to Canada” brings to Americans.

Alselah will warm your heart with his experiences that are supported by a peaceful setting. Although he resides in Canada that doesn’t mean the war is over. To anyone looking to receive a gift of hope and education about the latest Syrian events, “Welcome to Canada” will give you this and more by the end of the documentary.

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