On Tuesday 18th July 2017, we had a film screening of Tadmor at International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Manchester. The screening was followed by a Q&A with the directors Monika Borgmann & Lokman Slimvia via Skype from Lebanon.
This was the first time the film was screened in the UK, Tadmor is the winner of Best Political Film Award (2016) Filmfest Hamburg. In their statement, the jury comments: “Tadmor is not only the best political film of this filmfest, it is also one of the most impressive, astute and courageous films that we have seen in the last years.”
Tadmor is the Arabic name for the Syrian city Palmyra, home of one of the most magnificent ancient cities dating back to the 3rd century BC. Palmyra became the centre of an empire, headed by Queen Zenobia, which took over most of the Roman East, including Egypt.
Tadmor is also associated in the Syrian people’s collective consciousness with one of the most notorious political prisons in recent history, where prisoners, often detained for many years without trial, have been subjected to the most horrendous forms of systematic torture.
In Tadmor, the film, 8 former Lebanese detainees (yes, people from all over the world were detained there, not just Syrians) decide to break their silence about the years they spent in Tadmor prison and to tell their story. They rebuild Tadmor in an abandoned school near Beirut so that they can re-enact their experience, overcome it and move on…
The director’s note says: “Words alone could not describe the cruelty of their detention. Words alone could not exorcise that horrendous past. Ultimately, the men chose to re-enact it. They wanted to relive it.”
In Tadmor, former detainees recall their individual and collective stories of torture and survival. They speak for themselves, but also for those who are still trying to survive the same systematic torture and humiliation in Syria’s prison.
It was a truly moving screening.