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Introduction to 2022 Festival

Building on 4 years of success, culminating in an entirely virtual festival in December 2020, Rethink Rebuild Society persists with its creative mission, showcasing the talent and creativity of Syrian artists in the UK and presenting a truly bright image of Syria and its culture and heritage, an image that has long been neglected amidst the war and the refugee crisis. 

The 5th Celebrating Syria Festival will take place from  11-26 March 2022 and will be a hybrid of events held online and in person. It will feature, among other activities, an art exhibition, a theatre performance, live music, films, panel discussions and interactive art workshops, and will end with a family fun day. There will be something for everyone.  

The theme of this year’s festival is ‘Distance’, or Masafat مسافات in Arabic, a title that is ‘inspired’ by social distancing measures imposed on us all as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, where isolation and distance became the norm and many people stayed away from loved ones. ‘Distance’ also sums up the experiences of many Syrian and non-Syrian people, forcibly displaced, exiled or refugees around the world as a result of injustice.  

With this theme in mind, the festival uses arts and culture to challenge physical, emotional and cultural distance and barriers, bringing people closer to one another, reducing isolation, alienation and marginalisation and reinforcing dialogue and integration in the multicultural society of Manchester and the UK at large. 

We are committed to making Celebrating Syria accessible to everyone. For each ticketed event three different prices are available, following the ‘solidarity economy’ approach. The highest price is intended for high waged, the middle price for low and medium waged and the lowest price (always £1) for unwaged. This means you can choose the price that suits you. By choosing a higher price, if you can afford it, you are supporting the festival and enabling lower earners to attend festival events. We base our ticketing structure on trust, so no evidence of income is required. As usual, asylum seekers can attend all events for free. If you require free tickets, please contact info@rrsoc.org or on 0161 222 9779. 

This festival has been possible through generous funding from Arts Council England.

2022 Festival Events

  • Family Day: Miles Apart, Still in the Heart
    Mar 26, 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM
    Brunswick Parish Church, Brunswick St, Manchester M13 9SX, UK
    Save the best for last, we conclude our 2022 festival with a day full of entertainment for the whole family. Whether it is food and drinks, music, dance, art workshops, there is something fun and exciting for everyone!
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  • TootArd present Migrant Birds
    Mar 23, 8:00 PM – 10:00 PM GMT
    TriBeCa, 50 Sackville St, Manchester M1 3WF, UK
    This inventive duo of brothers from the Golan Heights return with a jammed full of pop hooks and quarter-tone melodic lines, “Migrant Birds” unleashes a disco whirlwind that pays homage to the West Asian dancefloor scenes of the 1980’s.
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  • Assad’s Prisons: The Narrative of Resistance in Lived Experience and in Literature
    Jaber Baker introduces us to prison literature in Syria in a rare opportunity to have a closer look at the experience of detention and forced disappearance in this country, itself a huge prison, as represented in literature.
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  • Peace by Chocolate: Tribute to Hatem Ali
    Mar 21, 7:00 PM – 8:45 PM GMT
    Chapeltown Picture House , 50 Red Bank, Cheetham Hill, Manchester M4 4HF, UK
    In the last of Hatem Ali’s films, after the bombing of his father's chocolate factory, a young charming Syrian refugee struggles to settle into his new small-town life, caught between following his dream and preserving his family's legacy.
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  • On Remembering and Forgetting
    Mar 20, 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM GMT
    Rethink Rebuild Society , Unit 7, Longsight Business Park, Hamilton Rd, Longsight, Manchester M13 0PD, UK
    In this panel discussion Rasha Yousef and Bassel Hariri discuss how people reconstruct a vanishing past after 11 years of mass destruction of the built environment, and radical transformation of their way of living
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  • In the Eyes of Syrians: Double Vision and Sugar Cage Screening
    Mar 19, 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM GMT
    Contact Theatre, Oxford Rd, Manchester M15 6JA, UK
    This double bill of short-ish documentaries will transform your perception of Syria and its people. In Collaboration with Ettijahat - Independent culture
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  • Dabke: Learn to Dance Like a Pro
    Mar 19, 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM GMT
    Contact Theatre, Oxford Rd, Manchester M15 6JA, UK
    Dabke is a native folk dance performed by people in the Levant region, and of course, on the Island of Crete - think Zorba the Greek!) At this workshop, you will learn the basic steps of the Tayara Dabke, the traditional folk dance from Palestine.
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  • Printmaking for All
    Mar 19, 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM
    Contact Theatre, Oxford Rd, Manchester M15 6JA, UK
    Join artist Manya Alkhmri to make beautiful prints at this perfect creative workshop for the whole family on Saturday afternoon.
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  • Made with Magic: Music Concert
    Mar 18, 8:00 PM – 9:30 PM GMT
    Contact Theare, Oxford Rd, Manchester M15 6JA, UK
    Returning to Celebrating Syria Festival and one of its highlights, Fawaz Baker and his colleagues take us on a magical music journey incorporating different areas of Syria celebrating the richness and diversity of various musical modes (maqams).
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  • Syria: The Making and Unmaking of a Refuge State. A Conversation with Professor Dawn Chatty
    Mar 15, 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM GMT
    University of Manchester, Oxford Rd, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
    Professor Dawn Chatty examines the history of Syria in the late Ottoman Empire and since World War One as it welcomed refugees from across the region, drawing conclusions regarding displaced Syrians' contemporary welcome in neighbouring states.
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  • A Comedian in a Syrian Tragedy: Film Screening + Q&A
    Mar 14, 6:00 PM – 8:10 PM GMT
    HOME, 2 Tony Wilson Pl, Manchester M15 4FN, UK
    An intimate portrait of renowned and loved Syrian actor Fares Helou, who stood on the side of people, calling for freedom of speech, and was therefore forced out of his home country to experience the absurdities of exiled existence.
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  • How to Write a War: the Story of a Narrative Journalist from Syria
    Mar 13, 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM GMT
    Rethink Rebuild Society , Unit 7, Longsight Business Park, Hamilton Rd, Longsight, Manchester M13 0PD, UK
    AlJumhuriya Collective and Celebrating Syria Festival invite you, in this hybrid event, to discuss the work of Mona Rafea, pseudonym, a rare and critical voice that has been telling stories, from inside Homs, of those who have stayed in the city.
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  • Dounia: Film Screening + Q&A
    Mar 13, 4:00 PM – 5:15 PM GMT
    Rethink Rebuild Society , Unit 7, Longsight Business Park, Hamilton Rd, Longsight, Manchester M13 0PD, UK
    Through this amazing film, Marya Zarif wrote a long love letter for her country and her people, creating emotional bonds between Dounia and the young viewers and their families, therefore raising awareness of migrants' cause.
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  • Weaving: Using Poetic Patterns in Long Form Narrative with lisa luxx
    Mar 13, 12:00 PM – 3:00 PM GMT
    HOME, 2 Tony Wilson Pl, Manchester M15 4FN, UK
    In this workshop, participants will learn and practise ‘weaving’ - the technique of sustaining a story in poetry’, this through symbolism, extended metaphor, and rhythmic repetition.
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  • Eating the Copper Apple + Q&A
    Mar 12, 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM GMT
    HOME, 2 Tony Wilson Pl, Manchester M15 4FN, UK
    A soul searching tale of identity that explores adoption and mixed-heritage, shaped by lisa’s life, weaving together politics and dreams, loss and fulfilment into a one-woman verse play.
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  • Writing in the Time of War: a Conversation with Khaled Khalifa
    Mar 12, 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM GMT
    Contact Theatre, Oxford Rd, Manchester M15 6JA, UK
    Khaled Khalifa was our guest at the first Celebrating Syria Festival 2017 on skype from Damascus. Five years on, and he will be with us again, in person this time, to tell us about his experience of writing in the time of war, or writing the war.
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  • Celebrating Syria: Opening Night
    Mar 11, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM GMT
    HOME, 2 Tony Wilson Pl, Manchester M15 4FN, UK
    On this unforgettable evening, we launch the 5th Celebrating Syria festival featuring a great live music performance and we learn more about this year’s festival in an informal and welcoming atmosphere in the amazing Event Space at HOME.
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  • Celebrating Syrian Art in Exile
    Mar 11, 10:00 AM GMT – Mar 31, 10:00 PM GMT+1
    Contact Theatre, Oxford Rd, Manchester M15 6JA, UK
    In this art exhibition, five UK-based Syrian artists showcase their work as they reflect on and engage with this year’s festival theme: Distance.
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