A dissatisfying portrait of life in the shadow of the Syrian war

A still from ‘The Day I Lost My Shadow.’
Updated 30 September 2018
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A dissatisfying portrait of life in the shadow of the Syrian war

  • Sana’s trials and tribulations begin to multiply after she leaves the relative safety of her home in search of a gas canister

El-Gouna: Syrian filmmaker Soudade Kaadan’s fiction debut, “The Day I Lost My Shadow,” explores the horrors of the internecine strife in her country, filtered through a simple story of a mother’s desire to give her son a hot meal.
Partly folklore and partly magic realism, based on the idea that those who lose their shadows lose their souls, the director weaves a disturbing narrative of disruption, disappointment and distress. She was rewarded with the Lion of the Future award for best debut feature at the Venice Film Festival this month.
Guiding us through some of the most tension-ridden situations imaginable, as the mother walks through forests, dodges sniper fire and hides from trigger-happy rebels fighting government forces, Kaadan conveys most profoundly how such bloody wars can rob people of their souls, if not their lives.
The first 15 minutes give a fair idea of what to expect. Sana (Sawsan Erchied), a pharmacist, rushes home from work, encountering hostile security agents and a funeral along the way, in a race against time to beat water rationing. She has to finish her laundry before the water runs out, and make a meal for her son, Khalil (Ahmad Morhaf Al-Ali). Unfortunately, not only is the power cut off, but the cooking gas runs out. Sana’s trials and tribulations begin to multiply after she leaves the relative safety of her home in search of a gas canister.
While the film is effective at portraying the angst of a mother concerned about the son she has left alone at home
and her desperation to get back to him, it is not visually compelling enough to draw us into the sheer magnitude
of the tragedy. In addition, two supporting characters,
Jalal (Samer Ismael) and Reem (Reham Al-Kassar), who choose to go with Sana, are sketchily written.
Overall, there is a sense of dissatisfaction over this depiction of a scenario as grave as what Kaadan sets out to present.


Putin says rap should be controlled in Russia, not banned

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at meeting with cultural advisers in St. Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018. (AP)
Updated 53 min 24 sec ago
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Putin says rap should be controlled in Russia, not banned

  • Putin’s comments come amid a crackdown on contemporary music that evoked Soviet-era censorship of the arts

MOSCOW: Alarmed by the growing popularity of rap among Russian youth, President Vladimir Putin wants cultural leaders to devise a means of controlling, rather than banning, the popular music.
Putin says “if it is impossible to stop, then we must lead it and direct it.”
But Putin said at a St. Petersburg meeting with cultural advisers Saturday that attempts to ban artists from performing will have an adverse effect and bolster their popularity.
Putin noted that “rap is based on three pillars: sex, drugs and protest.” But he is particularly concerned with drug themes prevalent in rap, saying “this is a path to the degradation of the nation.”
He said “drug propaganda” is worse than cursing.
Putin’s comments come amid a crackdown on contemporary music that evoked Soviet-era censorship of the arts.
Last month, a rapper known as Husky, whose videos have garnered more than 6 million views on YouTube, was arrested after he staged an impromptu performance when his show was shut down in the southern Russian city of Krasnodar.
The 25-year-old rapper, known for his lyrics about poverty, corruption and police brutality, was preparing to take to the stage on Nov. 21 when local prosecutors warned the venue that his act had elements of what they termed “extremism.”
Husky climbed onto a car, surrounded by hundreds of fans, and chanted “I will sing my music, the most honest music!” before he was taken away by police.
On Nov. 30, rapper Gone.Fludd announced two concert cancelations, citing pressure from “every police agency you can imagine,” while the popular hip hop artist Allj canceled his show in the Arctic city of Yakutsk after receiving threats of violence.
Other artists have been affected as well — pop sensation Monetochka and punk band Friendzona were among those who had their concerts shut down by the authorities last month.