December 7, 2018
Soufra, an inspirational documentary about social entrepreneur Mariam Shaar, who overcame the limitations imposed from a life in an impoverished refugee camp to successfully launch a thriving catering company, screened at the Pontifical Orientale Institute at The Vatican on December 5th. The film, directed by Thomas Morgan and executive produced by Academy Award-winning actress Susan Sarandon, showed during the final part of the 2018 Laudato si' Challenge and was joined by Morgan, Sarandon and the film's subject Mariam Shaar, who opened the summit. The three-day challenge in Vatican City and ROME welcomed leaders from all sectors (public, private and faith) to come together and seek a way to sustainably improve the lives of 10 million people who have been forced out of their homes.
Soufra, which translates to 'table of bountiful food,' follows the inspirational story of Mariam Shaar, a generational refugee who has spent her life in the Burj El Barajneh refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon. Mariam set out amongst numerous obstacles to change her fate and launch a successful catering company, 'Soufra.' After establishing the company she expanded it into a food truck business with a diverse team of fellow refugee women, from Syria, Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon, who now share this camp as their home.
This screening, after which the participants gathered together to break bread, marked the beginning of Soufra's campaign to host 1,000 screenings of the film, all over the world. The goal is to finish before the end of 2019 in hopes of building bridges and better understanding the challenges, hopes and talents of migrants and refugees. See the Breaking Bread website here for more details: https://www.breakingbreadevents.com/.
"It's so inspirational to see people from so many faiths, backgrounds and economic beginnings drawn to the story of Soufra and the incredible women entrepreneurs featured in it. The Breaking Bread initiative makes me believe that cooperation and collective recognition of our shared humanity is possible," remarked Susan Sarandon, executive producer of the film.
Soufra, was released in the U.S. on December 15, 2017 to positive critical reviews. The documentary, which screened at 43 film festivals, was the recipient of ten festival awards, including the audience award for Best International Feature at the Florida Film Festival and Best Documentary Feature at the San Diego Film Festival.
The Soufra Cookbook also chronicles Mariam's inspiring journey and shares the treasured recipes that changed the lives of the women involved with 'Soufra'. These women are also full partners in the publication of the cookbook and share equally in proceeds from its sales. This partnership allows them to contribute to the ongoing development of the Burj El Barajneh's Children's Center and to building a school for all of the kids living in the camp.