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Film Forward: Soufra at Doc NYC


Miriam Shaar shares problems with fellow natives of her Beirut Palestinian refugee camp: little money, few opportunities, and frustration with a tight, cordoned-off space that has been housing a diaspora in makeshift fashion for more than 60 years now. Miriam’s love of cooking inspires her to gather a team of talented fellow cooks who build a catering business from the ground up. Although she is modest and low-key, leading a team of able women has clearly sharpened her entrepreneurial instincts and provided energy for new ambitions.

Soufra follows the cheerful, persistent Miriam and her crew as they raise money for a food truck via Kickstarter, fighting a sluggish (and implicitly anti-Palestinian) Lebanese bureaucracy to get their tasty dishes on the road. The film, which can register as a little earnest, treats us to sensual pleasures, with shots of fabulous-looking meals and intriguing views of Beirut, which in post-modern fashion combines war-torn grit with languid glamour. Soufra serves up the positive message that anywhere you go in the world, people thrive through work and the sheer love of doing what they’re good at.

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