Kick off summer by joining the Diversity Film Series for the documentary film Soufra, an inspirational story of women in a Lebanese refugee camp who start a successful catering business. Come early with the family to enjoy dinner at a middle eastern food truck that will be available outside of the venue.
A stirring tale of women’s empowerment, Soufra shows how societal change can begin with small steps. Directed and produced by Thomas Morgan with executive producer Susan Sarandon, Soufra follows the unlikely and wildly inspirational story of intrepid social entrepreneur, Miriam Shaar — a refugee who has spent her entire life in the decrepit and dangerous Bouj El Barajneh refugee camp just south of Beirut, Lebanon. The film follows Miriam as she sets out to change her fate by launching a catering company with a diverse team of fellow refugee women. She calls the catering company ‘Soufra’, an Arabic word meaning a long table filled with many good things to eat, or dining table.
As the documentary unfolds, the women begin to share recipes from their homelands, which leads to the creation of original dishes. At one point, Miriam takes her staff to a cooking class to improve their skills in food presentation and delivery. She also hires a marketing manager. The documentary chronicles Soufra’s first contract to supply food to schools, and the establishment of a stand at the souk (market), then the burgeoning business of catering for parties, and, finally, the purchase and equipping of a food truck.
The women find that the dignity that their work lends to them and to their families allows the women to see beyond the despair of the camp, to buy necessities they have not been able to afford, or to send a child back to school. Miriam’s own toughness in the face of these multiple delays and setbacks is remarkable to see, and it soon becomes clear that its importance reaches beyond her immediate circles — she carries the hopes of thousands. This wonderful film acknowledges these issues — and the bleak context of those who despair setting out to sea in tiny boats in an attempt to reach Europe –while maintaining an intimate atmosphere that brings personal stories to the fore. It’s a documentary full of small details that open up broader perspectives, and it serves as a reminder that refugees have the same ambition and desire to improve their own lives and others’ as people lucky enough to come from stable countries
“Just don’t watch it when you’re hungry.” Jennie Kermode, EyeforFilm.co.uk
“A stirring tale of empowerment.” New York Times
“The film deftly balances the personalities and culinary creativity with the fundamental matter of day to day political struggle.” Hollywood Reporter
Only ONE screening!
Thursday, 7, 2018, @ Ellen Driscoll Playhouse / 325 Highland Ave / Piedmont 94611
5 – 6:30 PM: Middle Eastern FOOD TRUCK will be parked outside Ellen Driscoll (see menu, below!)
6:30 – 7:30 PM, SCREENING (NB: EARLIER than usual, to coordinate with the food truck!) Film has subtitles.