Film Review: Simple As Water


January 13, 2023

Simple As Water is a powerful and emotional film that tells the story of Syrian refugees and asylum seekers who have been separated from their families due to the civil war in Syria. The film depicts the struggles and challenges these families face as they try to find safety and security in new countries, as well as the resilience and determination of the mothers to keep their children happy and protected despite all of the hardships they face. The film’s focus on the bond between family members and the resilience of Syrian children in the face of adversity is likely to be a moving and inspiring experience for many viewers.

The portrayal of struggles and challenges that characters such as Yasmin and Samra face, including the loss of a child and the decision to send a child to an orphanage, are undoubtedly difficult to watch. However, they also serve as a reminder of the harsh realities faced by many people who have been displaced by conflict. It is moving to see that, despite the difficult circumstances, these families are able to find joy and happiness in their daily lives and maintain their love for one another. It is a testament to the human spirit and the importance of family and community in times of hardship.

Simple As Water had a deep personal impact on me, since I was able to relate to the experiences depicted in the film. There was a time I was the kid who played with other displaced kids on the side of the road as my mother watched. Seeing kids going through the traumatic experience that I went through was excruciating to watch.

It’s not uncommon for people who have experienced displacement or migration to be affected by media representations of these issues, especially when they are portrayed in a way that is authentic and grounded in reality. The film has the potential to change the way people think about displacement and asylum, regardless of whether the viewer has experienced it personally. It can help its audience form a more nuanced and realistic understanding of the challenges that refugees and asylum seekers face. The film is also important viewing for people who work in the humanitarian sector or related fields, since it’s critical for us to have an understanding of the realities faced by the people we work with and to approach our work with empathy and understanding. By watching films like Simple As Water, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the struggles and challenges faced by displaced people and be better equipped to support and assist them.

Simple As Water is available on HBO Max.

Abdi Iftin is the Communications Specialist, Welcoming Communities at CWS. He was born in Somalia and has lived in the United States since 2014. You can read his story in his book, Call Me American.