We want to believe that we know the truth.
We want to believe that we understand.
We watch the news, whatever channel we prefer, and we get the hyper-edited, ratings chasing interpretations of the news of the day and we let it settle into our minds and we convince ourselves that we know the facts.
Intellectually, we know this is not true. Intellectually, we know that no 2-minute news report can adequately portray the horrors of conflicts thousands of miles away from us much in the same way that director Sufian Abulohom's 11-minute short doc Yemen: The Silent War couldn't possibly portray the entire picture of the social effect of the Yemen civil war.
But, there's psychological safety in believing we understand because if we admit to ourselves that we've only begun to understand the true horrors then we might actually have to hold ourselves accountable to really do something.
We can't possibly have that.
Yemen: The Silent War is a devastating film to experience, a glimpse into the emotional and physical horrors that envelope those living within a war zone and a difficult to shake examination of the cyclical nature of the generational wars that occur when we, we being the warmongering peoples of the world, attempt to inflict our will by any means necessary and commit acts that can't possibly be forgotten or forgiven.
The most impactful decision made by Abulohom was to incorporate poignant, deeply touching hand-drawn animations of children playing amidst the Yemeni landscape. These animations are used at various points throughout the film, reminders of life before conflict yet also powerful reminders of the innocence that has been lost due to war as children have learned to fear the silent drones hovering overhead and the war-tattered landscape that used to be their sanctuary.
Yemen: The Silent War tells the stories of Yemeni refugees living in Markazi Refugee Camp, the Djibouti refugee camp where only 2,170 refugees remain after many have chosen to return to their uncertain futures in Yemen rather than continuing to face the emptiness and futureless lives within the camp. It's a stark existence, one that has become remarkably common since the war began in 2015 and internally displaced more than 3 million people and led around 180,000 to flee Yemen.
Abulohom captures these stories simply, yet powerfully. The words spoken ripple like the generations of survivors who are left to make sense of something that is nonsensical. War makes no sense, yet we keep doing it to ourselves and each other.
The recently completed Yemen: The Silent War is just getting set for its festival run and it should prove to be a popular presence on the indie fest circuit over the coming months. For more information on the film, visit its IMDB page linked to in the credits.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic