by Catherine Van Campen, Germany, 2017, 90’
Children are masters at making something out of nothing. A wad of paper becomes a soccer ball, two insects a zoo. Zaatari Djinn is an exceptionally intimate movie about the resilience of children who have a much rosier view of life than adults. In the middle of the Jordanian desert, where there’s nothing but sand, unbearable summers and winters with snowstorms, a few tents were set up for a couple of hundred Syrian refugees. Then, quick as lightning, improvised shacks and cravans were attached to new tents and out of nothing arose Zaatari, a new city that consists for 80 percent of children. Through the eyes of four children, we get to see and feel what it is like to grow up in this place, with very few little resources or prospects, but with an enormous scope for dreams. Zaatari may be a place without a history or a future, for the children it is also a home. For three years, Catherine followed four children from Zaatari in the north of Jordan, near the Syrian border. Ferras (10) is the silent, poor boy with an old soul who is haunted by the war. This hard-working kid is obliged to tote a tray of sweets on his head every day. Fatma (12), whose best friend is a rooster, is much more open and assertive, but she needs to take out her anger on animals. Maryam (15), who is nearly a woman, aspires to a pious life, but falls in love with Shakespeare. And then there is the rich boy Hammoudi (8), who can buy anything he likes. For him the camp is paradise.