Early in the morning, between 5 and 6am, a wave of footsteps and whispering voices can be heard in the narrow alleys of the Burj al-Shemali refugee camp in southern Lebanon. It is in the darkness of the early morning hours that hundreds of Palestinian day laborers leave their homes, gather in the streets and head to work in the nearby fields and orchards. More than two-thirds of the camp’s labor force work at least part-time in agriculture.
Lebanese law treats the more than 400,000 Palestinian refugees in the country as foreigners. Palestinians in Lebanon are not allowed to own land, barred from working in dozens of professions, are not guaranteed a minimum wage and are not integrated into the Lebanese social and medical insurance system. These various forms of exclusion make them vulnerable to exploitation in many ways.
This 17-minute film is the result of a video workshop in the Burj al-Shemali camp. It deals with various aspects of the work and life of Palestinian day laborers in the orchards of south Lebanon.
a-films is an anarchist film collective currently focusing its work on
the destroyed Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon. Through workshops, the group aims to promote filmmaking as a tool for political struggles. The above video is availabe for downloading in high quality and translated into multiple languages at the a-films website.
- Uncertainty clouds Nahr al-Bared’s future, Ray Smith (22 October 2008)