A collection of wonderful and thought-provoking films available throughout Celebrating Syria Festival
On top of this year’s festival programme, Celebrating Syria brings you a collection of 6 films, short and long, one of which was produced in 1978! Whatever your cup of tea is, you will find it in this selection.
*A Memory in Khaki (2016)
*Step by Step (1978)
*The Wait (2018)
*The War Show (2016)
*We Are Not Princesses (2018)
*50 Feet From Syria (2015)
To watch the films, simply book your ticket via Eventbrite and we will send you the links on 5 December!
The films will remain available to watch (through Eventbrite) until Sunday 20 December 2020.
More information about each film can be found below:
We Are Not Princesses (2018)
1hr 15 min, Cert 12
Directed by Itab Azzam and Bridgette Auger
We Are Not Princesses is about the incredible strength and spirit of four Syrian women living as refugees in Beirut as they come together to tell their stories of love, loss, pain and hope through the ancient Greek play, Antigone.
The film uses intimate footage and animation to follow how these women find laughter and purpose as they come together to perform the ancient Greek play, Antigone.
Shot over three months in the Autumn of 2014, the film stems from Antigone of Syria, an eight-week drama workshop with 35 Syrian women from various refugee camps in Lebanon. The workshops culminated in three performances at Al Madina Theatre in Hamra, Beirut in December 2014.
We Are Not Princesses is about resilient, intelligent, articulate Syrian women picking up the pieces of their lives and moving forward against the odds. (openartfoundation.org)
Step by Step (1978)
23 min, Cert 15
Directed by Ossama Mohammed
Ossama Mohammed, one of the most eminent Syrian film directors in exile, returns to Celebrating Syria Festival to share with us one of his earliest, yet ever so presently relevant work.
The poor defenceless peasant is a soldier, whether he chooses to be or not, and instead of redressing injustice, he gets caught in the system that reinforces it.
As a child, he awakens to a world shaped by patriarchy. As an adult, he comes to consciousness in a world shaped by political dogma that is entirely detached from his reality. And when he becomes a father himself, he becomes the patriarch his own father was.
In Step by Step, Mohammed asks a young peasant who recently joined the army if he would kill his kin if they were accused of treason against the regime. The peasant-turned-soldier, with no hesitation, says:...
50 Feet From Syria (2015)
39 min, Cert 15
Directed by Skye Fitzgerald
With a suitcase full of donated stainless-steel bone implants, Syrian-American surgeon Hisham Bismar arrives at a Turkish hospital on the Syrian border, ready for anything. What he finds is horror, chaos, and an ocean of refugees in need of medical care: Colleagues who perform operations without anesthesia, stories of Syrian government snipers targeting pregnant women and children, and images of 55 gallon barrels filled with shrapnel and TNT deliberately dropped on civilians.
50 Feet From Syria is a portrait of a quiet and determined man, performing intricate acts of medical necessity undeterred by the chaos and complexity of war around him. At the same time, the film serves as a snapshot in time of the current plight of Syrian refugees and indelibly communicates the human cost of one of most brutal, dehumanizing conflicts in modern history that continues to destroy and displace millions of lives.
The Wait (2018)
40 min, Cert 12
Directed by Susie Attwood
The Wait follows the lives of Syrian Christians who have escaped from the oppressive skies of their homeland and have taken refuge in a Syriac Orthodox Monastery in Lebanon. Unable to work or find education for their children, they find themselves trapped in an in-between existence: waiting for visas to the West. Centred around the Eastern Orthodox celebrations of Easter, The Wait gives an insight to their spiritual as well as physical longing.
The War Show (2016)
100 min, certificate 15
Directed by Andreas Dalsgaard and Obaidah Zytoon
In March 2011, radio host Obaidah Zytoon and friends join the street protests against the oppressive regime of Bashar al-Assad. Knowing the Arab Spring will forever change their country, this group of artists and activists begin filming their lives and the events around them. But as the regime’s violent response spirals the country into a bloody civil war, their hopes for a better future are tested by violence, imprisonment and death. Obaidah leaves Damascus and journeys around the country, from her hometown of Zabadani, to the centre of the rebellion in Homs, to northern Syria where she witnesses the rise of extremism.
A deeply personal road movie, The War Show captures the fate of Syria through the intimate lens of a small circle of friends whose life and dreams are turned into nightmares, while the country collapses into chaos around them.
A Memory in Khaki (2016)
1h 48 min, Cert 15
Directed by Alfoz Tanjour
Who do you become when that place no longer exists?
Weaving the testimonies of four exiles among his own, Tanjour explores the impact of Syria’s crisis on its artists. A rich visual landscape emerges, blending memories of their birth cities with their cities of refuge. Longing and pain blur into beautiful glimpses of colour, some stained forever with military khaki, others running red with vivid pomegranate, each a stunning frame of life.
Filled with poetic and visceral stories of revolution and oppression, A Memory in Khaki will stir the emotions of anyone who has longed for the familiarity — if not always the comforts — of home.
Symbolized by khaki, a neutral, seemingly bland color that conjures traumatic memories of blood-stained military uniforms and school clothing (part of the Assad regime’s efforts to control people’s bodies and minds), that palpable feeling of oppression is offset by the hope for a better future that each of the film’s five interviewees courageously nurtures.
“We were demonstrating to bring down the khaki colour.… we were against the colour, in its symbolism,” says one of the protagonists, Ibrahim, about the militaristic state apparatus that tried to extinguish the smallest indication of resistance leading to an ever-present state of fear.