Film Screening and Q&A with Filmmaker Ziad Kalthoum (on Skype)
As part of ‘Celebrating Syria' Festival 2018, on 10 October, the Savoy Cinema in Manchester hosted a screening of the film Taste of Cement by Syrian director Ziad Kalthoum. This essay documentary was an empathic encounter with people who, having lost their past and their future, are locked in the recurring present. It followed a group of Syrian refugees working on the construction site of a new skyscraper in Beirut which is being built on ruins caused by the Lebanese civil war, while their own houses are being bombed in Syria. Forbidden from leaving the construction site because of the curfew, every night in their cement pit in the basement of the skyscraper, they were haunted by news from their homeland and memories of war. Voiceless and imprisoned, they craved the arrival of the new day with its hammering and welding to drown out their nightmares. An exciting and enlightening conversation with the film maker via Skype followed the screening.
Ziad’s first film ‘Oh, My Heart’ (2009) told the story of a group of Kurdish women living in a village without men for political and social reasons. It was the first film to speak about Syria’s Kurds and hence it was banned from screening in Syria. In 2012, Ziad began filming his feature film The Immortal Sergeant when he himself was a conscripted soldier in the Syrian military as the Syrian revolution broke out. The film premiered at Locarno Film Festival and won the Best Film Award at the BBC Arabic Film Festival.
In 2013, after defecting from the Syrian army and refusing to kill his own people, Ziad fled to Beirut and began filming Taste of Cement which won the Best Film Award at the Visions du réel 2017 and was nominated for the Best European Film Award at Doc Alliance Award 2017.