There’s no shortage of docs about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This one has a sense of humour going for it. The director is Mahdi Fleifel, who was born in Dubai, grew up mostly in Denmark and is now a Londoner. As a kid, Fleifel spent summer holidays in Ain al-Hilweh, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, a makeshift city of 70,000 people packed into one square kilometre. Ain al-Hilweh has been described as a ‘huge maximum-security prison’ and a stronghold of jihadi groups, but never as Disney World – until now.
Fleifel, both of whose parents grew up in the camp, says that Ain al-Hilweh was fun for a child, and in old Super 8 footage we see children roaming the streets, everyone football crazy. Fleifel contrasts his memories with fly-on-the-wall footage of friends and family now. There’s his friend Abu Iyad: young, disillusioned, desperate to get out. And Fleifel’s 80-year-old grandfather: a boy of 16 when he arrived at the camp in 1948, expelled from Palestine to make way for the state of Israel. In this heartfelt film, Fleifel shows us the human cost of the conflict.