Terror and Hope: The Science of Resilience
Terror and Hope: The Science of Resilience
Terror and Hope: The Science of Resilience
Terror and Hope: The Science of Resilience
Terror and Hope: The Science of Resilience

Terror and Hope: The Science of Resilience

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    • Directed by: Ron Bourke
    • Released: 2020 (educational)
    • Year of Production: 2019
Running Time: 37 min
Language: English
Subtitle Options: English Closed Captions
Subjects: Physical and Mental Health, Middle Eastern Studies, Children Youth and Family


Toxic stress is stress that’s so severe, prolonged, or frequent that it can damage the developing brain - affecting mental and physical health, functionality, and behavior over a lifespan. Decision making capability is compromised. Control over impulses can be lost. DNA can actually be altered, negatively impacting generations to come.

In Syria alone, it’s estimated that more than 8 million children are suffering from the unrelenting and brutal war. Parents or siblings dead, homes lost, starvation, insufficient medical care and catastrophic injuries. It’s no wonder that boys can be lured by the perceived dignity of extremest groups over the uncertain future of a refugee. For girls, an early marriage offers financial relief for their family and a sense of security in a terrifying world. The stability and health of the family is compromised as husbands and fathers are lost to war and the family forced to relocate and live for years or even decades in a refugee camp.

Terror and Hope offers a unique window into the impact of war on children through the pioneering work of an international team of scientists and humanitarians. Our film follows researchers from Yale, Harvard and Hashemite Universities as they investigate the impact of toxic stress on young refugees fleeing the brutal Syrian civil war. As our cameras join them in their research in Jordan's refugee camps and communities, we witness the role that science is playing to mitigate one of our planet's most intractable social problems – the forced displacement of entire populations due to war and famine. The film also explores issues not normally associated with scientific research, including the role of love and compassion in the practice of science. Due to the innovative work of these dedicated researchers and aid workers, there is hope for the future of children scarred by war.


Winner of the Best Documentary at the 2020 Sci-On Film Festival and Jury Prize for Best Documentary Short at Raw Science Festival 2020

“Terror and Hope, The Science of Resilience is helping us to see the many different systems, from the most intimate and personal, to our wider social worlds, that need to work together to increase the chances that those made vulnerable by war will survive and thrive. " -Michael Ungar, Ph.D. & Author of Change Your World: The Science of Resilience and the True Path to Success

“I was very impressed with the film and its unique angle. In my experience as a global health research and policy analyst, most films about humanitarian crises, even those related to health, are mainly about disaster relief and immediate response. Very few films that I am aware of have a research lens.  I think a screening would be a unique opportunity for my colleagues to understand the meaningful and personal impact research can have.”  -Blythe Beecroft

"I found “Terror and Hope” to be very powerful.  I really appreciated the strong focus in the film on the science behind what these children experience.  The film has an excellent balance of portraying the loss but also presenting the hope from a scientific lens.  It’s also so nice to meet the people who work on the ground and see their really clear passion for their work.” -Mohamad Elfakhani, MD, BSc, FRCPC
Site Chief Psychiatry - London Health Sciences Centre, Ontario, Canada

About the filmmaker 

Ron Bourke is an independent filmmaker concentrating on documentaries exploring issues of displacement, education, healthcare, science research, and the wellbeing of children everywhere.  Ron’s previous film exploring the refugee experience, Lessons of Basketball and War was an official selection at more than a dozen US and international film festivals. Other selected honors include: Gold World Medal – New York Festivals International Television and Film Awards; multiple Cine Golden Eagle awards; Gold Medal – Houston International Film Festival; Crystal Award of Excellence - Communicator Awards; Gold Camera - International Film & Video Festival; and an American Film Institute Independent Filmmakers grant.


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