Oscar Shortlisted 2022


Simple As Water

Simple as Water is a soft-spoken meditation on love, displacement, and fracturing familial relations from Academy Award-winner Megan Mylan (Lost Boys of Sudan, Smile Pinki). From Turkey to Greece to Germany to the U.S., the bond of close relatives transcends borders for Syrian families impacted by the repercussions of perpetual war.


As a conflict at home forces separation and movement to unfamiliar ground, Mylan’s cinematic lens finds the powerful yet everyday acts of nurturing and kinship, travelling with her protagonists as they build a new sense of belonging. From brotherly protection, motherly love, and the playful guidance of a sibling, these closely observed scenes show touching stories of resilience and reveal ties that bind families together in the face of adversity.—Luke Moody
Directed by Megan Mylan
Megan Mylan creates intimate observational documentaries on complex global issues. She won an Academy Award® for her film Smile Pinki and an Independent Spirit Award for Lost Boys of Sudan which was also short-listed for an Academy Award® and named a New York Times Critics’ Pick.
Megan Mylan
Robin Hessman, Megan Mylan
Lars Skree,
Hanan Townshend
Purcell Carson, Megan Mylan
Skip Lievsay, Lidia Tamplenizza




HAMMER TO NAIL, Matthew Delman

“The story is simultaneously heartbreaking and hopeful…Filmed across five countries, Mylan’s emotionally affecting and layered portrayal of the Syrian diaspora is exponentially more engaging than a newspaper headline.
‘Simple As Water’ is made more engrossing by the gorgeous cinematography by Lars Skree, Michael Chin and Rafia Salameh…A striking image of an extreme wide shot of Yasmin’s children dancing next to a massive ferry in the Grecian port precedes the title card, evoking feelings of a childhood adrift, reminiscent of Sean Baker’s The Florida Project.
The poetic lyricism of Mylan’s film is what makes it stand out … Despite the heartrending storylines, there are also go-karts and balloons, and plenty of smiles and kisses. It’s a stunning achievement to make a film about the Syrian refugee crisis so beautiful and endlessly watchable.”


MOVEABLE FEST, Stephen Saito

“There’s only a fleeting glimpse of the ongoing civil war in Syria in ‘Simple as Water,’ but you feel its effects in every frame of Megan Mylan’s extraordinary film, tracking all that it has taken away from those who left the country with their own lives but in many cases, little else.


Remarkably, although sadness is certainly there, what is primarily depicted is strength when if any one of her subjects were to completely give themselves over to the tragedies that have befallen them, they likely wouldn’t be able to carry on. … A marvel of editing


The fact that ‘Simple as Water’ is presented in separate sections is testament enough to what’s been broken, but just as its subjects resolve to pick up the pieces, there’s immense power in the experience it assembles.”