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We are proud to present this documentary featuring the story of a refugee musician and his journey from Syria to Berlin where he pursues his musical career. Videographer Yu Nakajima spent six months filming Ali’s story in Berlin, who tells us about his perilous voyage from Syria, his thoughts and anguish over the Syrian Civil War, and what comes from his desire “today” to live as himself.

text_lute Editorial Department

By law, all Syrian men must serve the military upon reaching the age of 18. Faced with the two choices of either staying in his country and becoming a soldier or leaving home and becoming a refugee, the percussionist Ali Hasan decided to flee from the flames of war to save his individuality.

Ali traveled to Turkey where he worked as a masseuse by day and musician by night to fund his escape. Five months later, he had collected enough money for the trip. After finding a smuggler on the internet, Ali and his group of 40 people paid him 1,200 euros each (140,000 yen) to purchase a small boat that could carry them all.

Facing the tiny craft, Ali was told by the smuggler, “That island you see over there is Greece,” and nothing more. Ali had no choice but to sail the 40-man boat himself. While the journey across the Mediterranean Sea proved perilous and nearly fatal, they were lucky enough to make it to Greek shores in one piece. From there, Ali found another smuggler online and began a new chapter of traveling on foot from country to country, with no bed to sleep on but the road beneath him.

This documentary reveals how difficult it is for this Syrian refugee to “live as himself,” a right that we take for granted.

Why a peace-seeking Syrian refugee chose Berlin as his final destination

Ali saw Berlin as a new and fascinating city the likes of which he had never seen in Syria, and experienced a great deal of culture shock. Berlin’s cityscape, transportation services, systems, government, and much more were completely new to him. Back home in Syria, the concepts of capitalism and democracy had all but disappeared.

For Ali, Berlin is a beautiful place where he can use his music and beloved literature to truly connect with people. Even so, Ali says, “Life is so beautiful, but it’s so hard,” revealing his ever-present feelings towards his homeland of Syria, where his family remains today.

Ali felt something about his new home in Berlin: even after facing heavy losses in World War II, it has risen from the ashes to transform itself into the artistic and attractive city that it is today. “I wish only for the fighting to end in Syria, so that we can start over and rebuild everything.” This is the heartfelt wish of one refugee who had no choice but to abandon his homeland.

Ali Hasan
Director and Producer: Yu Nakajima
Co-Director: Rafi Gazani
Camera: Masaya Kato, Yu Nakajima
Opening Timelaps: Masaya Kato
Opening Track: Chikara Aoshima
Translator: Kosuke Kitakoga<Thanks>
Medhat Al Daabal
Moufak Al Daabal
Fadi Waked
Singer: Ahmad Nieo
Darbuka : Mohammad Abu Hajar
Violin : Zaher Alkaei
Oud : Alaa Zaitouna
Dj : Matteo Guglielmo

Videographer Yu Nakajima captures the forefront of urban culture on film in “FROM BERLIN.”

In addition to this refugee documentary, lute also presents “NIK NOWAK,” a part of videographer Yu Nakajima’s “FROM BERLIN” series on the forefront of urban culture.

Berlin’s NIK NOWAK is an artist known for his artistic activity and music production. He is the creator of the Sound Tank, a mobile sound system inspired by World War II sonic weaponry, as well as sound systems designed to jostle your brain with music and other sound installations.

Who uses these sound systems, built taking pages from “sound phenomena” found in history and nature, and for what purpose? lute presents an original short documentary on “The Modern Art of Sound” that unfolds in the city of Berlin.