Two faces of Syrian cinema on show in Paris



AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

Published — Monday 3 December 2012

Last update 3 December 2012 6:25 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

PARIS: For half a century Syria’s filmmakers were forced to work under a numbing state censor or choose exile. But a flow of images beamed online from the conflict zone, spotlighted in Paris this week, may contain the seeds of a new Syrian cinema.
The French capital’s Forum des Images film center is showcasing some of the gems to have slipped past the censors since the 1970s, alongside raw and urgent images born of the revolution. “There are ways to shoot movies in Syria, but you have to be brave,” explained Meyar Al-Roumi, who once resorted to bringing along TV-star friends as decoys to be able to film untroubled by police.
Other times he was not so lucky: In 2007 while working on a portrait of six Damascus taxi drivers, he was denounced by one of them — who turned out to be secret service worker moonlighting as a taxi service.
But the advent of the Internet — and the sense of urgency brought by the Syrian conflict — has thrown things wide open.
Each Friday since April 2011, a collective of volunteers formed by Abounaddara has posted a haiku-like little film on the net, between one and five minutes in length. The 44-year-old Kiwan, who coordimates the network from his current base in Paris, pays tribute to the people brave enough to point a camera at a soldier to bear witness to abuses. But he also says a key goal is to counterbalance the flow of raw images coming out of the conflict zone, relayed by foreign TV networks who buy up hard drives of footage to illustrate their reports.
“That had disastrous consequences,” said Kiwan. “Activists started filming with the aim of getting their images on Al-Jazeera, shooting only what they wanted to see: A soldier firing at the crowd, a minaret hit by bullets.”
“And so the revolution was reduced to a stock image: Of people being shot at like rabbits by barbarous soldiers.”
“That is a terrible reality. But if you reduce the revolution to that — none of it makes any sense.” Kiwan works with a network of self-taught filmmakers in Syria, aged 20 to 40, a majority of them women, linked up the Internet. “Our idea is to show why people decide to take to the streets, what is going on in their heads, the whole social side of the movement.”
Many of the films rely on first-person testimony — from army defectors or ordinary Syrians — their faces obscured. Others are more poetic in approach, though the conflict is always center-stage.
“You have a generation that acquired a film culture on social networks, on YouTube, who are totally free and uninhibited,” Kiwan said. “The revolution brought them together, and I think the future of Syrian cinema will come from them.” Al-Roumi, who has been unable to return to Syria since 2010, is closely watching the output of this new generation.


“There have been some wonderful films” he said. “Syrians are making cinema from reality. New filmmakers are bound to emerge from this — although for now the work is still quite raw.”
While openly supportive of the Syrian rebels, Abounadarra is determined to keep its film-making open-minded.
“We run films critical of both sides,” Kiwan said. “We use humor, derision, we want to make normal cinema with all sort of ingredients.”
Their latest post, “The Unknown Soldier,” shows a defector from the government forces turned rebel fighter, speaking softly of atrocities he says he witnessed, and committed, for both sides.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: An explosion damaged several cars at a residential area in the national capital on Monday, but there were no injuries, police said.A spokesman for the Riyadh regional police told Saudi Press Agency (SPA) that security patrols received a tip f...
ABHA: Gov. Faisal bin Khalid bin Abdulaziz, Asir region, ordered the formation of a working team in Bisha to address the status of the battered woman who recently shared her suffering on social networking sites.Mohammed bin Sabrah will head the team,...
MADINAH: Madinah Gov. Prince Faisal bin Salman launched a series of charity and developmental projects during his recent visit to Khaibar Province at costs exceeding SR100 million.They included municipal projects at Khaibar, Al-Salsah and Al-Ashash M...
MADINAH: Pilgrims spend the most beautiful moments in the Prophet’s Mosque, where they pray in Riyazul Jannah (garden from the gardens of paradise) and get to greet the Prophet, peace be upon him, said the Omani pilgrim, Ahmed Nasser. “Such deeds giv...
MADINAH: A member of the Senior Scholars Council, Dr. Abdullah Al-Manieh, has called for the establishment of women’s departments at the Islamic University in Madinah in line with other universities in the Kingdom.“The Muslim woman has had her own st...
JEDDAH: The euphoria over the sudden resumption of call facility on WhatsApp in the Kingdom on Saturday was short-lived as the service was not widely available the following day. A large number of users of the popular messaging service, barring a few...
JEDDAH: Work on developing and modernizing the Kingdom’s 27 airports is ongoing and is expected to be completed within the next five years, according to Sulaiman Al-Hamdan, president of the General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA).“Our goal is tha...
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and South Korea are set to widen cooperation in the health care sector following a joint road show which underlined potential areas of cooperation and showcased world-class health facilities of that country. The event, titled “Ko...
RIYADH: The Saudi Green Building Forum (SBGF) believe that about fifty percent of the ongoing eco-friendly green building projects across the Kingdom are facing delays for not fulfilling criteria.Faisal Alfadl, secretary-general of the forum, on Satu...
AL-UQAIR: The low-quality of education in the Kingdom arises from many factors. Included among these are the complexity of the system itself, unclear educational vision, non-professional education development programs, and instability due to changing...
JEDDAH: Security authorities in Jeddah called a citizen and his wife for interrogating with them on the charges of beating their Eritrean housemaid.Makkah Police media spokesman, Col. Dr. Atti bin Attiah Al-Quraishi, said: “The Safety Center of Jedda...
AL-UQAIR: The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH) has deposited SR600 million with local banks for the Al-Uqair Development Company in Al-Ahsa, SCTNH President Prince Sultan bin Salman has said.“Saudi citizens have some equitie...
JEDDAH: A number of preachers have been arrested for using sermons to promote political ideologies, said Fahad Sulaiman Al-Khalifa of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.He said the issue was not widespread, and the ministry reiterated that the sermon sh...
JEDDAH: A Saudi military analyst and retired brigadier, Ibrahim Al-Marie, has called for the compulsory drafting of young Saudis into the military.This is, he said, not only because the Kingdom is facing regional threats, but because of its benefits...
RIYADH: Advertisement campaigns for fake TOFEL and ILET certificates are being monitored on social media websites in an effort to halt this illegal practice. The certificates originate from Jordan and can be obtained by clients for a sum of SR2,000,...

Stay Connected

Facebook