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.


El Salvador court frees woman jailed for delivering stillborn

Evelyn Hernandez (C) is surrounded by activists after being released from the women's Readaptation Center, in Ilopango, El Salvador, on February 9, 2019, where she was serving a 30-year-sentence for aggravated homicide after her baby died at birth. (AFP)
Updated 16 February 2019
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El Salvador court frees woman jailed for delivering stillborn

  • Even women who abort due to birth defects or health complications risk jail sentences of up to 40 years in El Salvador

SAN SALVADOR: A Salvadoran court on Friday freed Evelyn Hernandez, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison after she gave birth to a stillborn baby at home.
After serving 33 months for aggravated homicide, 20-year-old Hernandez smiled as she was reunited with her parents and a brother in the capital San Salvador.
The court in Cojutepeque, east of the capital, ruled that she will be retried but while living at home. A hearing has been set for April 4, with a new judge, her lawyer Angelica Rivas said.
El Salvador has an extremely strict abortion ban. Hernandez gave birth in the makeshift bathroom of her home in the central Cuscatlan region. She was 18 years old and eight months pregnant.
She said her son was stillborn but was convicted of murdering him, abortion rights group ACDATEE said.
ACDATEE cited a pathologist’s report which it said indicated the baby had choked to death while still in the womb.
Prosecutors argued Hernandez was culpable for not having sought prenatal care, ACDATEE said.
The group said Hernandez had not known she was pregnant and gave birth on the toilet after feeling abdominal pains. She got pregnant as the result of a rape, which she did not report out of fear because her family had been threatened.
Even women who abort due to birth defects or health complications risk jail sentences of up to 40 years in El Salvador. Campaigners say some have been jailed after suffering miscarriages.
The country’s abortion law made international headlines in 2013 when a sick woman was forbidden from aborting a fetus which developed without a brain.
Under a ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Salvadoran state eventually authorized her to undergo a cesarean section. The baby died shortly after the procedure.