Ala’A Mohsen: A New Beginning

”I will not let Kais feel my sadness”. Words from the father in this small gem of a film. Father and son. From Syria. Coming to Norway for a new beginning.

But we, the audience, feel the sadness of Rabeea. Thanks to the gentle way the director sets the tone, letting us read the face of the father, who has one reason to live: Creating a future for Kais, his son, who towards the end of the film, where he is 7 years old and has started in first class in school, is told (some of) the story of the journey they have taken from Syria to Lebanon to Turkey and through Europe to a welcoming Norway.

Bravo Dad, Kais says, in a wonderful sequence where the two are out skiing in snowy Norway. Kais learns Norwegian quite quickly contrary to the father, who also fights with his health. In the beginning we see him in a wheelchair in Copenhagen Central Station, in Norway he gets an operation of his damaged leg, he ought to have one more on his back but says no: Kais gets scared if I say the word “operation”. He kills the pain with pills.

It is never sentimental, but touching it is to see father and son. There is so much love in their relationship – that the film conveys with respect without pushing for emotions. Absurd it is to see Syrian boy Kais celebrate the Norwegian national day on the 7th of May singing with a flag in hand. He will adapt to the new country with the energy and openness his loving father passes on to him. The father… What a world we live in. 

Denmark, 2020, 78 mins.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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