Sometimes we receive questions from people who are wondering about how this documentary has been made.  Here you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions:


What was the motivation for this project?

At the end of March we made the documentary ‘Outside Syria’ at refugee camps in Lebanon.  Here we could see with our own eyes how overfull the region of Syria had become due to the ongoing war in that country.  We heard figures of 4.3 million people who had already spent years in a tent and due to their illegal status were not permitted to work.  Their children were also not allowed to go to school.  It was not difficult to understand that in the upcoming summer, when the sea is calm, a large number of these refugees would try to reach Europe. In may, two Syrian friends of us, made the illegal boat trip to Greece. This made us decide to do a new project.

Why on Lesbos?

Lesbos is one of the European places which lies the closest to the Syrian region.  It is located only eight kilometres from Turkey.  Because Lesbos is also a very touristic island, we came up with the idea of making a documentary in which the tourists and the refugees would meet one another.

After we decided to film with three cameras and that translation would be necessary we brought soundman Bob and translator Reem to the project. Through the contribution of two funds (the Miap Foundation and Stichting Dialoog) we had exactly enough to pay for all of the trip’s costs.  The hours spent on this project were not included.


And then? On to Lesbos?

Yep! The first two days on the island we tried to figure out how and where the best locations would be to film.  We searched for beautiful benches at quiet places. Happily they were everywhere.

Besides this we also met the refugees.  In the burning sun we saw boats arriving and people in soaking wet clothing carrying backpacks and scrambling over the mountain passes.  Numerous times we stopped with the research for our documentary to transport exhausted families with small children to the village 15 kilometres away.  We also saw that the tourists were driving back and forth with water in their rental cars, or bought some food for them in the local supermarkets. The refugees were not allowed to buy or rent anything before their registration in Mythilini. At that moment there was virtually no structure for the daily influx of people, which resulted in distressing and dire situations.

Were the people in the film cast beforehand?

No, there was no time and space for that.  We simply asked tourists in our hotel if they would like to participate, or we approached them on the street.  We asked the refugees on a parking lot in the village of Molyvos, where everyone was required to gather together and wait for a bus which would take them to Mythilini that was located some 70 kilometres away.  Because this bus was very sporadic or did not come at all they sometimes had to wait for a very long time.

The parking lot where refugees were required to wait for a bus who would take them to Mythilini. It was 35 C and there was barely shadow.


Het swimming pool of the hotel where we asked tourists to participate in our project. 


Did everyone want to participate?

90% of the people thought that it would be fun to take part; we only rarely got a ‘no’. If they agreed, then we arranged a time and place for that evening or the next morning.  Sometimes they came there on their own, and sometimes we picked them up with the car.

Did you know the people’s stories beforehand?

No, we had no information about who they were or what they did in their everyday lives. The conversations which arose were just a great surprise for us and to the people sitting on the bench.

Did you often have to intervene in the conversations?

While we sat quietly behind the camera we let every conversation take its own course.  Sometimes the conversations started somewhat awkwardly, but during the course of the conversation it became easier.  And if they were unable to think of something to say they could take one of the question cards which were located in between them.

How could the people understand one another?

The people were given an ear microphone by Bob.  Through this Reem, who was sitting some distance away, could continually immediately translate everything.  Reem lives in the Netherlands but is originally from Lebanon.  Her mother tongue is Arabic, but she also speaks English, French and Dutch.



How many conversations took place?

In total we filmed 12 conversations. Eachconversation lasted for approximately 30 minutes.

When was the project completed?

When we arrived back home along our daily work we spent every free minute on editing, writing, working with the images and building the website.  Sometimes we were seeing stars before our eyes.

Were you commissioned to make this project?

During the year we do a lot of work on assignment. Philip is the co-owner of an advertising agency and Marieke often travels as a photographer for organizations like UNICEF. But once a year we want to do a project of our own for which there is no client.  In this way we are 100% free in our work.  There is no commercial or charitable goal on this project.

What were your former projects?

We have made a project about the favourite places of the city Kabul (A Monday in Kabul), and in Lebanon we asked questions to Syrians on behalf of our Facebook Friends (Outside Syria).

Do you already have ideas for your next project?

Yes, an entire notebook full.  But we first want to make every effort to have this film seen by as many people as possible.  Because that is the goal of our personal projects: making something which gives the world some colour, which adds a new level to the daily social debates.

Bob, Reem, Marieke and Philip

Philip and Marieke, how do you both feel personally about all of this?

Like anybody else, we cannot give any simple answers. History shows us that streams or migrations and wars are as old as the world itself.  That is the reality.

On a political level we would like that, instead of focussing on the stream of refugees, politicians would instead look at the causes of this: war and power, but also the role of the war industry.  It is illogical and a case of short-term politics to try and stop the result with fences without first addressing the cause of the situation.

On a personal level we learned during the many conversations we have had over the past years in Lebanon, Jordan and Greece that people simply cannot ‘stop’ with their existence. Along with the right to safety, people also have the right to build on their lives and have their children go to school, without being labelled as a fortune seeker. Simply because we want that for ourselves too.

The more stories we hear, the more we realize that cooperation and a sharing of the wealth is the only answer for a stable world. Remaining in denial that millions of people in the world cannot or may not participate is no longer an option in our opinion.