Behind the Headlines

One Boy's Incredible Story At A Lebanese Refugee Camp

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Meet Nidal—one of the 4.8 million Syrian children displaced by their country's escalating conflict. At 14 years-old, Nidal has already witnessed unimaginable suffering and cruelty, including the brutal murder of his two brothers when he was 9. Since then, he and his family have settled in a Lebanese refugee camp, fleeing Syria with the hope of finding peace in this new country. Yet when they arrived in Lebanon, Nidal experienced a radical change. Born a girl, he discarded his feminine clothing for a short haircut and sweatpants, passing as a boy amongst the other refugee children. Caught in the deep traditions of a rigid society, Nidal's identity challenges ingrained notions of gender, confounding his peers and teachers as they strive to uncover the source for this sudden shift.
Directed by Tarek Turkey, "Nidal," which premiered at SXSW, distills to an elegiac portrait of one young person's struggle to define himself in the face of harrowing tragedy. Watch the full film above.

About Behind the Headlines

Refinery29’s original series “Behind the Headlines” takes an in-depth, human look at the policy debates dominating the global news media, from American immigration reform to the continuing struggles of Syrian refugees and Afghanistan’s lingering gender inequality crisis. Bypassing the pundits, we’re dedicated to spotlighting the stories of the people whose lives have been profoundly impacted by these issues, and believe that their voices must be heard.

Nidal Documentary Syrian Refugee Gender Fluidity StoryReleased on June 20, 2017