Notes on Displacement

The news is full of images of overcrowded boats and vast tent camps. But how much do we really know about what refugees are going through? Notes on Displacement takes a deep dive by following a single family on a grueling journey, destination Germany. Their fear, disorientation, and solidarity is palpable.
Nadira, an elderly Palestinian, has been a refugee since the age of 12. And now she has to leave Damascus, too. She and her daughter Mona feared for their lives there, but the idea of a safe existence elsewhere is a distant dream. Filmmaker Khaled Jarrar receives unsettling videos and voice messages as they cross to the Greek island of Lesbos. He joins them there, on the long road to a better life.
Jarrar has his personal reasons for going through this experience in order to eliminate, in his own images, the distance so dominant in Western media coverage. He worms his way through the thronging crowds, gets lost in the night with his gro√up, discovers how dangerous language barriers can be, and wanders around in the dehumanizing camps. And in a sense he—along with the viewer— becomes a true member of this family.

  • Khaled Jarrar
  • Khaled Jarrar
  • Khaled Jarrar
  • Thomas Kaske
  • May Odeh
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 14 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    November 1, 2022
  • Country of Origin:
    Palestine, State of
  • Country of Filming:
    Germany, Palestine, State of, Qatar
  • Language:
    Arabic, English, German
  • Shooting Format:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • IDFA (International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam)
    November 14, 2022
    World Premiere
    Envision Competition
Distribution Information
  • Cinema Politica
    Country: Worldwide
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Khaled Jarrar

Khaled Jarrar was born in Jenin, Occupied Palestine in 1976. He lives and works in Ramallah. Jarrar completed his studies in interior design at Palestine Polytechnic University in 1996. Upon graduating he smuggled himself to work as a carpenter in Nazareth, living as an underground “illegal” worker. In 1998 Jarrar enlisted in an intensive military training which resulted in working for Arafat as a personal body guard until Arafat’s death in 2004. Attempting to create a life between the military and an artistic practice, Jarrar entered the field of photography in 2005. Jarrar graduated from the International Academy of Art – Palestine, Ramallah in 2011 and completed an MFA in fine art from the University of Arizona in 2019.

Jarrar, a multidisciplinary artist, explores modern power struggles and their sociocultural impact on ordinary citizens through highly symbolic photographs, videos, film, and performative interventions. His State of Palestine project was featured in the 7th Berlin Biennale. Where We Lost Our Shadows, his filmic collaboration with Pulitzer prize winning composer Du Yun, was shown at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. Jarrar’s work has been featured at Maraya Art Centre, Sharjah; the New Museum, New York City; the University of Applied Arts, Vienna; the 15th Jakarta Biennale; 52nd October Salon, Belgrade; Al-Ma’mal Foundation, Jerusalem; and the London Film Festival. Infiltrators, Jarrar's first feature length film, was a documentary about the business of Palestinian’s “illegally” crossing and won the FIPRESCI Award for Best Documentary, Jury Special Award and the Muhr Arab Documentary Special Jury Prize at the Dubai International Film Festival in 2012. Notes on Displacement, his second feature length, about a Palestinian refugee’s flight from Syria to Germany, will receive a world premier at the IDFA Envision Competition in November 2022.

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Director Statement

My grandmother Shafiqa was forced to leave her home in Haifa, her Jasmine tree, her cup of tea on her balcony and her view of the sea. I inherited this pain print of hers through haunted memories both beautiful and painful at the same time. They chased me in my dreams like ghosts that never intended to leave. I tried to escape through geography, through emotion, through psychology, but leaving the past behind proved impossible, something always forced me back in time.

Nadira’s plea brought me to the front lines; creating new memories by walking this new exodus together. We were real time inside the frame capturing the present to battle the past - creating a communication between the two. As the director from behind the camera I was driven to offer images of our own making, outside the never-ending western paparazzi image onslaught of displaced refugees. This film is for us, our values, our knowledge, our experiences.