Experiencing Interruptions?

Lines in the Sand

Joanne Brunwin's debut documentary, Lines in the Sand, tells the story of two families amongst the thousands whose lives have been torn apart by the war in Syria.

Stuck in a makeshift campsite beside a petrol station on a busy highway in southern Greece, they are struggling to come to terms with what has befallen them.

We meet Yassin, Rashed, Nalin and Mosab. Each of them invites us into their their makeshift home and shares with us their memories, their grief, their hopes and frustrations. We learn that they had lives much like ours. Nalin and her family "lived an ordinary life, like any normal family". Rashid ran a branch of the Red Crescent in the outskirts of Damascus. Its warehouse and Rashid's family home were destroyed in bombing raids on the same day.

The destruction they have experienced is etched on their faces. The camera captures their desperation and despair. As he recalls the first explosions he witnessed, Rashid's son is talking almost to himself. We see flickers of images of the bombing and its aftermath.

The film’s style is experimental; it focuses on creating a closeness between viewer and subjects, lingering on silent faces, giving the viewer space to reflect upon all that they have lost, and the limbo they now find themselves in.

Adopting an unconventional narrative structure, the film moves us through the camp, into each family's private space as they share with us their lives and their daily routines - picking herbs from the rough ground around their tents, drying their washing on the hedges, making sambusas.

Shot entirely in 4K, we are invited to encounter this world of displacement in all it's curious detail. There are no clear boundaries between each speaker, or the individuals we encounter. Much like a memory or a dream, we are given fragments of information, both visual and spoken, that together convey a sense of what it's like to lose all you have, both material and personal, and with no clear prospect of retrieving what's been lost. And yet their humanity is unbroken and remains intact, as they care for each other and dream of a time when they can feel at home again.

  • Joanne Brunwin
    Hyakutake, Coco
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental, Short
  • Genres:
    Documentary, Poetic documentary, Human rights, Refugees, War, displacement, humanitarian
  • Runtime:
    15 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    June 22, 2017
  • Production Budget:
    0 GBP
  • Country of Origin:
    United Kingdom
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
    Arabic, English, Kurdish
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital 4K
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Joanne Brunwin

Joanne Brunwin is an experimental storyteller and has produced, directed and edited several of her own short films. Her work is often characterised by her unique sensory approach to filmmaking: layering moving images and sounds and engaging closely with her subjects immerses her audience in to the texture of their lives. She began her career with her student short Coco: a glimpse in to the double life of a burlesque dancer in Brighton. The film was a poetic invitation in to Coco's world, otherwise unseen to the general public. Following this she wrote and directed the screen drama Hyakutake, a narrative that presents the intricate inner workings of the mind of an autistic savant; Daniel. The film was highly regarded by screenwriter Peter Straughan for its original script and sensory film techniques.

Lines in the Sand is Joanne's debut short within the realm of humanitarian filmmaking. She has reworked and repurposed her signature approach to storytelling, delving deeply in to the shock and bewilderment of her subjects. She allows their truth to unfold in their silences, and in the words that they do and do not say.

With a first class BA Honours in Creative Media Practice from the University of Sussex and experience production assisting on two feature films (as well as multiple short films), Joanne has developed a critical approach towards filmmaking and is unafraid to ask the big questions: Who are we? And what is happening to us? The answers to which, are what make us truly human. Joanne's approach to filmmaking allows these truths to resonate with a wide audience, engaging them and inviting them to be united in a response to human crises.

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