January 2018 – Acclaimed actress, activist and native Queens New Yorker Susan Sarandon has a story that will resonate far beyond the borders of this city. It’s an uplifting narrative of Women overcoming tremendous odds, and it’s an inspiring chronicle on how cooking can serve as a means to galvanize entire communities and empower marginalized people.
Sarandon is the Executive Producer of the documentary “Soufra” – which is the Arabic word for “Feast” – or “Long table with many good things to eat”. The documentary is a story of hopes and dreams coming true
The film follows Mariam Shaar – A generational refugee who has spent her entire life in a camp just south of Beirut, Lebanon. Mariam sets out to change her fate – and the fate of those around her – by launching a catering company named “Soufra”.
With funding from a UN Agency and a kickstarter campaign, Mariam expands Soufra into a food truck business with other refugee women who live in the camp. However, Mariam and her workers must overcome many social, financial, political, and legal obstacles to realize their dreams.
Director Thomas Morgan filmed “Soufra” over the course of 2 years. The film crew endured the same depressing and often dangerous conditions that Lebanon’s refugees encounter every day.
The group of women, who are mostly Palestinian and Syrian share recipes and create original dishes. Through Mariam’s business, the women develop a sense of dignity which allows them to see beyond the despair of their refugee camp. They now have the means to buy necessities they could never afford and send their children back to school. Despite their struggles, Mariam and the Women of Soufra have emerged as a symbol of hope to others through this powerful documentary.