Moving story of Syrian refugees told through their phones in ‘District Zero’ documentary

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  • The trailer of documentary, produced by Oxfam and the European Commission, will be presented on 20th June to mark World Refugee Day
  • ‘District Zero’ features Maamun – one of 55 million refugees and displaced person worldwide – who runs a mobile phone shop in Jordan’s Zaatari camp

The story of a Syrian refugee who begins a new life in Jordan’s Zaatari camp fixing mobile phones and helps fellow refugees print off photos of happier times is the focus of an upcoming documentary film which will be previewed to mark World Refugee Day (June 20th) as part of a joint campaign by Oxfam and the European Commission’s Office for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO).

One of more than 55 million refugees and displaced person worldwide, Maamun Al-Wadi runs a small mobile shop in Zaatari, repairing phones, charging up batteries and restoring the only connections his neighbours in the camp still have with Syria.

People from all over the camp come to his shop and through each customer we see the contents of their memory cards: their past lives in Syria (happiness, daily routine and family life) as well as the war, destruction, fear and flight.

One of the most moving moments in ‘District Zero’ comes when Maamun decides to buy a printer and the camp’s refugees are able to make their memories of happier times come to life through photographs.
Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp is the second biggest in the world in terms of number of people, after Dadaab in Kenya. The Syrian conflict has resulted in almost 4 million refugees while 7.6 million people are displaced inside Syria.

The title of the film evokes the idea of the lives of Zaatari’s inhabitants being suspended or stuck at a ‘Point Zero’ because of the ongoing war in Syria. Presenting a snap-shot of the day-to-day life of a refugee, it aims to show that behind every number and every statistic, there is a story to be told.

The documentary is due to come out in September 2015. After its premiere, the film will be exhibited in a festival circuit including national and international festivals. It will also be shown during the Expo Milano 2015, in the frame of the events organized by Oxfam and the European Commission.

The ‘District Zero’ film is part of the ‘EUsaveLIVES-You Save Lives’ campaign that Oxfam and the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) have been implementing this year to raise awareness on the lives of refugees and displaced people focusing on three ongoing crises: Syria, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

The documentary

District Zero was filmed in Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan in March 2015, with crew members living with the refugees who are trying to get on with their lives, far from home.

The European Commission and Oxfam hope to use the documentary to highlight the situation of Syrian refugees and all refugees and displaced people across the world and increase awareness of the vitally important role humanitarian aid has in the lives of tens of millions of people.

The ‘District Zero’ team

The documentary was produced by Arena Comunicación and, with the support of Oxfam and ECHO.
The film was directed by Pablo Iraburu, Jorge Fernández and Pablo Tosco. It also had the collaboration of the music label Alia Vox, with Jordi Savall as musical director.

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Note to editors

  • More information:
  • Spokespersons are available for interviews on the making of the documentary.
  • Click for Documentary Trailer
  • Click for dossier and poster
  • Photos from the documentary (not making off pictures)
  • The EUsaveLIVES-You Save Lives project focuses on three crises which together have caused a serious increase in the number of displaced persons and refugees in recent years: Syria (11.5 million people), South Sudan (2 million) and the Central African Republic (898,000). The number of refugees and displaced persons in the world now exceeds 55 million for the first time since the Second World War.
  • Oxfam is a world-wide development organization that mobilizes the power of people against poverty. Oxfam is made up of 17 organisations across the world; they work together with disadvantaged people who are confronting injustice to demand their rights. Oxfam saves lives in humanitarian crises: Syria, South Sudan and the Central African Republic are some of the emergencies it is working in at the moment.
  • The European Union and its Member States are the world's leading donor of humanitarian aid. Relief assistance is an expression of European solidarity towards people in need all around the world. It aims to save lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering, and safeguard the integrity and human dignity of populations affected by natural disasters and man-made crises. The European Commission ensures rapid and effective delivery of EU relief assistance through its two main instruments: humanitarian aid and civil protection. The Commission, through its Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO), helps over 120 million victims of conflict and disasters every year.
  • Arena Comunicación and have been producing audiovisual content for more than 10 years and specialize in documentaries. Their work includes important pieces such as Nömadak TX  (submitted to more than 100 festivals and winning 15 awards), Pura Vida (the most viewed documentary in Spain in 2012), Walls (documentary and series in production for Discovery Max and currently District Zero. These projects have received awards and mentions in important festivals such as the San Sebastián International Film Festival, IDFA International Festival of Amsterdam, Guadalajara Film Festival, Trento Film Festival, Durban and Silverdocs.


Media Contact:
Melanie Gallant

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