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Dalya's Other Country on - The Best Documentaries... Instantly On Demand

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"If I still lived in Syria I would have become a completely different person." Under the shadow of Donald Trump’s ‘muslim ban’, Dalya, a Syrian refugee living in America, tries to be a normal teenager. However, she must contend with daily reminders of her otherness, not least being the only girl in school that wears a hijab. This touching film explores a young life caught between highly politicised identities, searching for a place in the world.

“Are you hiding your hijab?” Dalya asks her mother, who stretches a wool hat over her head. Rudayna explains that it’s a measure to avoid 'conflicts' with “disturbed people causing problems”. Dalya is unconvinced, caught between her pride in her cultural traditions and trying to understand the new world that she finds herself in.

The pressures that the family face in LA are small compared to those they escaped: "One night we heard a big bomb around our house in Aleppo, so we had to run...the war didn’t leave any choice for me. I had to come here."

In the relative safety of America, like all teenage girls, Dalya focuses on fitting in: "It was really hard for me…I’m the only one that had my headscarf on." It's not long before the dynamic teenager immerses herself in American society, playing in the school basketball team, cheered on by her family, going to prom and dancing with friends on stage.

However, fractures between her family’s conservative Islamic culture and that of her new home begin to surface. Her mother tries hard to maintain some firm rules: “she can go to her friend's birthday but not a boys and girls party…It’s not in our culture.”

These tensions deepen when Dalya's father, who is estranged from her mother, visits. He is troubled by the gulf in culture between Syria and America: “Los Angeles is a big city. It’s too busy, too much rush, people are not free to visit with other people. They are not even free to talk to you.”
As Dalya approaches graduation, she feels further away from her father: “I’ve never told my dad that I’m a feminist. He believes that men should have higher power…I try to not talk about the things that we disagree about.”

After high school, Dalya is at a crossroads. She nervously watches as Donald Trump's election victory unfolds. The anti-immigrant rhetoric of Trump worries Dalya: “I am not feeling safe anymore.” However, she is ready for a fight: “we should always be ready to stand up for our rights and our country.”


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