Last week, I went to the cinema. I bought popcorn and a bottle of coke, went into the darkness, and sat down in one of the soft seats. For two hours, I was not going to think about the assignment that I had to write, world politics or what I was going to have for dinner that night. I had escaped this reality when I went into the darkness. For two hours, I was going to sit in a dark room, forget about everything and just watch a movie. No talking, no thinking. Just watching.

I think almost everybody knows the feeling I am talking about. When you settle down in one of the big, comfortable chairs in the cinema and you know that there is nothing you have to do or think about as long as the movie lasts. It is like hitting the pause button on life. That way, going to the cinema can almost function as a form of temporary escape. An escape, which we are all in need of from time to time – and some people more than others. Because while I was only escaping from homework, worries about Trump being the president of The United States and the classic money troubles of a student, some people are using the cinema to escape from their daily life as refugees in a refugee camp.

During the summer in 2016 the organization World Cinema wanted to give some refugees this opportunity of temporary escape. Through an initiative called Les Ecrans de la Liberté, which means the screens of freedom the organization set up cinemas in four refugee camps in Iraq. The cinemas offered the refugees a window to another world outside the refugee camp and showed movies for both children and grownups. Frédéric Namur who is the man behind the organization went to see some of the refugee camps in Iraq and was shocked to see the living conditions in the camps. To try to give the refugees something else to think about he decided to build the four cinemas. Over 2000 children has been to one of the cinemas to watch Ice Age or Minions and the adults enjoyed the possibility to get away from their usual life in the refugee camps for a couple of hours.

I think that is what makes going to the cinema so much more special than watching a movie at home. You leave your house and daily life and go to a place with other people who you do not necessarily know. And even though you do not know the people that you are sitting in a dark room with, you all came there for the same reason – to watch a movie. And all of the people sitting in the darkness with you are all feeling the same thing you do – maybe only for those two hours, but in that moment, you are both escaping into the darkness to find temporary freedom from the troubles of life, weather big or small. When the lights turn back on, reality comes back and everybody leaves and returns to the real world. And no matter if you are a refugee or a student like me, you got a break from reality – and maybe even some popcorn if you are lucky.