Mahdi Fleifel’s A World Not Ours is about a war without battles and a war without visible end. The filmmaker, born in Ain al-Hilweh, Lebanon’s largest camp for Palestinian refugees, presents a poignant picture of that scrapyard for hope and homeland dreams.
Fleifel regularly returned as a Dubai-migrated child and teenager – family vacations to revisit the extended family still stuck there – and has kept the habit as a filmmaker. He charts the sporadic fevers, including World Cup mania, that enliven the camp’s more chronic disease: despairing lethargy. He draws humour-touched sketches of a woebegone granddad, a loose-trigger uncle, a Fatah-attached best friend forever oscillating between revolutionary zeal and the shrug of emotional surrender. Demoralisation is the damp tinder in this place of rage co-existing with resignation. But even damp tinder, Fleifel points out in friendly warning, can become dangerous given the right provoking spark or momentum.