[VIDEO] Évian – Ghayath Almadhoun – On refugees, then and now (2020)

Évian - Ghayath Almadhoun (sceenshot)


The film begins in our days when a boat of refugees collapses in the sea. Suddenly, we find ourselves witnessing the tragedy of the Évian Conference in 1938, which was held to discuss the crisis of Jewish refugees. No one has learned the lesson.

Director Biography – Ghayath Almadhoun

Ghayath Almadhoun is a Palestinian poet born in Damascus in 1979. He has lived in Stockholm since 2008. Almadhoun has published four collections of poetry, the latest “Adrenaline” in Milano 2017. In Sweden, he has been translated and published in two collections: Asylansökan (Ersatz, 2010), which was awarded the Klas de Vylders stipendiefond for immigrant writers. He also authored Till Damaskus (Albert Bonniers Förlag, 2014) together with the Swedish poet Marie Silkeberg. which was included in “Dagens Nyheter” (the largest Swedish newspaper) literary critic list for Best New Books and converted to a Radio Play for Swedish National Radio. With Silkeberg, Almadhoun has also made several poetry films. His work has been translated into Swedish, German, Greek, Slovenian, Italian, English, Dutch, French, Spanish, Czech, Croatian, Albanian, Lithuanian, Indonesian, Macedonian, Bengali, Persian and Chinese.

The Dutch translation of Almadhoun’s poems, Weg van Damascus, (Uitgeverij Jurgen Maas) Amsterdam 2014, was one of the top 10 selling poetry books in Belgium for several weeks in 2015 & 2017.

His poetry has been part of many artist’s works, for example, the renowned American artist Jenny Holzer has projected poems by Almadhoun in “For Aarhus” Aarhus, Danmark, “MASS MoCA” Massachusetts, USA, “Off-White” Florence, Italy, Blenheim Palace, England & “Tutta la Verità” Bergamo, Italy. Also, the legendary artist Blixa Bargeld has read loudly his poems in Norway & Greece.

Lately, he had published together with the Dutch poet Anne Vegter, the poetry collection “Ik hier jij daar” (Uitgeverij Jurgen Maas) Amsterdam 2017. Also, the book was one of the top 10 selling poetry books in Belgium for several weeks in 2017.

Adrenalin a selection of his poems translated into English by Catherine Cobham released from Action Books, USA, on 15th November 2017.

Adrenalin was at the 2018 BTBA longlist, Best Translated Book Award in the Us, and on the Small Press Distribution list of Poetry Bestsellers for four months – December 2017, January 2018, February 2018 & January 2019.

“Ein Raubtier namens Mittelmeer” a selection of Ghayath Almadhoun’s poems translated into German by Larissa Bender released on the 9th February 2018 by (Arche Literatur Verlag AG) Zürich / Hamburg.

The book ranked number 1 on “Litprom-Bestenliste / Sommer 2018” list for the best books translated into German.

Almadhoun will be a resident artist in the city of Berlin for the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program award scholarship (Berliner Künstlerprogramm des DAAD), during the period from July 2019 to July 2020.

Director Statement

They’ll take our jobs and our houses.
They’ll seduce our women.
They look bad.
They carry diseases.
Their standards are different.
Their culture is different.
Their morals are strange.
They’ll never be able to integrate.

When you hear these raisest words, you think about the current refugee crisis, as they call it, meaning Syrian refugees these days. In fact, those words were widely used by the Western media to describe Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria who attempted to flee from the Nazis in the period before the Second World War.

In 1938, 32 Western countries met at the Évian Conference to discuss the crisis of Jewish refugees. All countries present refused to take them in. On 13 July, the Nazi newspaper Völkischer Beobachter wrote triumphantly: ‘Nobody wants them.’

The film begins when a boat of refugees collapses in the sea, and ends with history repeating itself, and us as witnesses with a fish’s memory.