REVIEW by ALEXANDRA BONDOC.
722 TMX Engineer Battalion: Screening and Q & A with Tim Kelly (UK Producer)
CISS (Cooperazione Internazionale Sud Sud), an NGO working on developing projects in the Third World, sponsored the event at the Casa della Cooperazione, a centre for migrants, in Palermo, Sicily. Several CISS speakers gave talks and the screening was the culminating event of the evening.
In an era when the media is only preoccupied with presenting the negative effects of the refugee crisis and the fearful reactions of the people, the documentary film 722 TMX Engineer Battalion is like a breath of fresh air. It is eye-opening in the way it shows the public that it is possible to overcome fear and that there is still compassion left in the world. Learning about the success of the refugee camp in Alexandria also brings hope to those yet to escape the hell they live in at home. Most of those interviewed were well-educated people who were trying to build a career in a country destroyed by war and their intentions are far from evil. All they want is the chance to make a better life for themselves and their families and they are eager to work hard for it. The refugees are not to blame for what is going on in Syria and deserve this opportunity. From the perspective of an International Relations student, a humanist as well as an immigrant myself, I believe all of us would take a bed as a refugee in a tent over not knowing whether we would wake up the next day in our home country. Fear comes from ignorance and it can only be overcome through knowledge and understanding. A curious example was presented in the film in relation to the bus driver, first shown cursing the refugees’ presence in Alexandria and then shown playing with the refugee children.
With a little bit of good-will and an open mind, great things can be accomplished, lives can be saved and tragic destinies turned around. Considering the sensitive topic that the documentary touches upon and the ideas it sparked in the viewers’ minds, the Q & A session that followed was very illuminating. It offered the opportunity to raise questions unanswered in the film such as why parents voted against the refugee children joining the local schools and why no female refugees were interviewed. Other questions discussed related to Brexit, the rise of xenophobia across Europe, the role of the media in the refugee ‘crisis’ and the toxic discourse of right-wing politicians, which Tim Kelly stated had “real consequences for real people and resulted in a wholly unnecessary increase in human suffering.”