Watani: My Homeland - Home

A film by

Marcel Mettelsiefen


My Homeland

Academy Award ® Nominee
Best Documentary Short Subject
"We love you Syria. Forgive us!"



Filmed over three years, Watani: My Homeland tells the epic story of one family's escape from war-torn Syria, and their attempt to make a new life in Germany.
Hammoudi, Helen, Farah and Sara are the young children of Free Syrian Army Commander Abu Ali. They live on the frontline of the civil war in Aleppo, the only family living in a derelict warzone that was once a busy residential neighbourhood.
After Abu Ali is captured by ISIS, the family is forced to flee their homeland and to start a new life in a small, medieval town in Germany.
For a full photo-essay about the family's journey, click here .
"I am responsible for destroying my children's future right now. I have sacrificed my children for the revolution."
"Our country has been destroyed. Everything good has gone. Everything..."


  • Abu Ali
  • Hala
  • Hammoudi
  • Helen
  • Farah
  • Sara
"Sometimes I envy the dead because they've finally found somewhere to settle down. Even though it's in a grave, at least they're no longer thinking about where to live."
"How do you imagine Germany? Very beautiful! I haven't seen it, but it's so beautiful. Mum told me about it. I can swim and I can go on the rainbow and climb the sky."


  • 11 February 2017
    The film is playing in theaters around the USA. You can find a screening near your home on the SHORTS HD website.
  • 25 January 2017
    We are honoured and proud to announce that the film has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Documentary Short Subject category.
  • 27 October 2016
    We are delighted to announce that the film has been shortlisted for an Academy Award in the Best Documentary Short Subject category.
  • 19 October 2016
    Hala and the children were invited to attend the World Humanitarian day event at the UN General Assembly. Excerpts of the film were used as a backdrop for the event, and Hala gave an emotional speech condemning the war in Syria which was received to a standing ovation.

    Her powerful speech, entitled 'Message to Humanity,' can be seen here .
"Goodbye Aleppo. Goodbye to my school, my friends, my cousins, my grandma. I will miss you so very much."


  • Producer, Director and Cameraman
    Marcel Mettelsiefen
    Marcel Mettelsiefen is a multi-award winning director, cameraman, photographer and producer.

    Mettelsiefen has a background in photo-journalism, and has reported from across the Middle East and Afghanistan. He is the co-founder of the magazine, Zenith, one of the leading publications about the MIddle East and the Arab world in Germany.

    Mettelsiefen has been covering the Arab Spring since 2011 and began reporting from within Syria in April 2011. Since then he has filmed and photographed within Syria more than twenty-five times. It was in Syria that he moved from photojournalism into documentary film-making. His reports and documentaries from Syria have been aired on ARD, ZDF, Channel4, CNN, Al Jazeera and Canal+, ARTE and others.

    In 2016, Mettelsiefen won the Rory Peck award for his documentary work in Syria.
  • Producer and Editor
    Stephen Ellis, A.C.E.
    Stephen Ellis is a multi-award winning film editor and producer specializing in feature documentaries.

    His films have won many awards including Emmy, BAFTA and Grierson awards.
  • Executive Producer
    Chris Shaw
    Chris Shaw is Editorial Director of UK-based ITN Productions which creates multi-award winning TV programmes across factual, entertainment and current affairs for UK and international channels. His programmes regularly win awards and recent gongs include Emmy, BAFTA, RTS, Prix D’Italia, Peabody and Columbia Dupont awards.

    Prior to joining ITN Produtions Chris was a Senior commissioning editor at Channel 5 in the UK. His television career began working on critically acclaimed news programmes in the UK including Channel 4 News, programme editor of News at Ten on ITV and launch editor of 5 News. He is a Fellow of the Royal Television Society and Chair of the Edinburgh International TV Festival.
  • Co-Producer
    Hubertus Hoffmann, Globalo News
  • A film by
"There's no need to be scared of anything because there's nothing left in our lives."


  • We are working on more screenings. Follow our social media feeds for more information.

Thanks to

We would like to thank the following, without whom the film would have been impossible:
  • Sara Hajjar
  • Daniel Gerlach
  • Zenith Magazine
  • Candid Foundation
  • Stiftung Sternenstaub
  • Sabrine Chahbi
  • Amro Refai
  • Melanie Albert - Canon Deutschland
  • Christoph Petzenhauser
  • Brigitte Hoffman

Contact Us

If you'd like to get in touch, please use the links below.