From Syria To Hope

"From Syria To Hope" is an official Films With A Cause documentary directed by Yazmeen Kanji. The film was made in collaboration with York Region Muslims to explore the lives of three Syrian families who arrived to Canada under refugee status. Each family lives in the Greater Toronto Area and has a unique story. The individuals featured in the film reflect on their hopes and dreams after having no choice but to leave their homes in war-torn Syria. The film is intended to be an educational tool to combat discrimination, islamophobia and xenophobia.

  • Yazmeen Kanji
  • Zoya Abou-Jaish
    Post-Production Translation
  • Arvin Fekri
    Music Composition
  • Cathy Nosaty
    Music Composition
  • Film Type:
    Documentary, Short, Student
  • Genres:
    Educational, Documentary
  • Runtime:
    35 minutes 50 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    December 30, 2018
  • Production Budget:
    0 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Film Language:
    Arabic, English
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Yazmeen Kanji

Yazmeen Kanji is an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto studying Peace, Conflict and Justice, Equity Studies and Cinema Studies. In high school, Yazmeen placed at the York Regional Police Film Festival twice, having the opportunity to visit the set of Saving Hope as a winning prize. Yazmeen currently directs a docu-series called "Beyond the Blue Line” for the Varsity newspaper at the University of Toronto. She is also the administrative assistant for Canesugar Filmworks and the founder and creative director of Films With A Cause. Yazmeen hopes that Films With A Cause can become a platform for sharing digital content that has the potential to inspire social and political change, and that will encourage sustainable practices, as well as increase opportunities for vulnerable and underserved populations. Yazmeen is also a professional videographer, the social media representative for the Canadian Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, the Communications Lead for the Hart House Global Commons and a Jackman Humanities Scholar. Her first documentary called “From Syria To Hope” is being released in January of 2019.

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Director Statement

My mother worked locally with our community mosque to help ease the transition for Syrian families who had just arrived to Canada as refugees. I was able to volunteer and interact with the newcomers on a personal level. Hearing xenophobic and islamophobic comments directed toward these refugees at this time was very upsetting, especially as I was able to determine the knowledge gaps causing these misunderstandings. The subject of this film is extremely sensitive, yet as someone who has witnessed the chaotic resettlement efforts in the Greater Toronto Area, I felt that these unique stories must be heard. Behind the sensationalized news about “floods of Syrian refugees” are people who are thankful for safety, and who greatly miss their homeland and families left behind. From finding families willing to share their experiences, to filming, editing and coordinating translation, the making of “From Syria To Hope” has by no means been an easy process. As a student-made film with virtually no budget, there have been many challenges. It has been an emotional journey and wearing most of the hats for this film has been very difficult. I haven’t had the chance to pursue a project of this magnitude before and so I wanted it to be the best it could be with the limited resources I was working with. Instead of waiting for the perfect moment to start filming I jumped right into it. Looking back at the footage, there are different techniques I would use if I were to do it again. However, I’m hoping the message of hope and humanity will resonate, and that people will appreciate the importance of student work as well.