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

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.


Paris pulls out the stops to restore Notre-Dame’s grand organ

Updated 03 August 2020

Paris pulls out the stops to restore Notre-Dame’s grand organ

  • The organ was not burned by the flames that destroyed the cathedral’s roof and spire on April 15, 2019
  • But it was covered in soot and damaged by humidity

PARIS: Workers started dismantling Notre Dame’s grand organ on Monday to let experts restore it in time for the fifth anniversary of the fire that damaged the Paris cathedral.
The organ — the biggest musical instrument in France — was not burned by the flames that destroyed the cathedral’s roof and spire on April 15, 2019. But it was covered in soot and damaged by humidity.
“It is an absolute miracle that it has survived. An organ like this is enormous and looks indestructible, but it is actually very fragile,” Olivier Latry, one of Notre Dame’s official organ players, told Europe 1 radio.
Workers will dismantle its five keyboards, pedalboard and the 109 stop knobs that control airflow to its 8,000 pipes, some as high as 10 meters.
The organ which sits under the Gothic cathedral’s huge rose window, was completed in 1867, shortly after the spire, which crashed through the roof during the fire.
“We can’t wait for Notre Dame and the organ to be restored. There is some kind of magic between this instrument and the place ... it makes the stones sing,” Philippe Lefebvre, another cathedral organist, told TF1 television.
President Emmanuel Macron promised after the fire to rebuild Notre Dame within five years.
Church officials also hope Notre Dame will be open for mass by 2024, when Paris is due to host the Olympic Games.