It’s been four years since I met a refugee for the first time. He was seventeen years old, and his story made me painfully aware of my own safe childhood. This encounter has put a lot into motion for me. Yasir became one of the main characters for my very first film ‘Welcome to Holland’, a film which got me accepted in the Netherlands Film Academy. Four years later I return to the same subject, because the issues still occupy my mind.
In a time where the refugee crisis is a central topic in the media, I decided I wanted to be a part of the solution rather than the problem. So I moved to Startblok, full of naive ideals. This had to be a film. It wasn’t only the beginning of a very personal adventure, it also became the kickoff for a new integration policy by the municipality of Amsterdam. Taking that in mind, it was important for me to stay close to myself, but also make room for the perspective from my new neighbours. To achieve that I choose to film several scenes which perfectly represent the daily interaction between the different cultures and languages.
Sometimes reality at Startblok turned out to be more difficult than I could have imagined and cultural differences seemed irreconcilable. But in the end those moments especially reminded me about how important it is to keep on trying. With my personal search in this film I hope to inspire people to think about what is necessary to achieve integration. Can we build a society in which there is place for everyone?