A Flood in Baath Country<
In 1970, Omar Amiralay made a film to celebrate the great strides his nation was taking toward modernisation.
The opening 15 minute segment of this earlier film shows men and machines building a dam. Thirty-five years later, he returns to the site to make “Flood in The Baath Country” and atone for his ‘error of youth’. The dam has now collapsed and Amiralay questions what has become of the dream of Arab socialism.
One of the most lauded documentary filmmaker Omar Amiralay whose chief theme was, apart from the devastating impact of Baathist policies on the Syrian poor, civil war in Lebanon, the plight of the Palestinians there during the Israeli siege of Beirut in 1982 and revolution in Yemen.
His first film released in 1970, ‘Film Essay on the Euphrates Dam’ was an enthusiastic documentation of the Baathists’ construction of the Assad dam on the Euphrates river that promised to bring radical improvement for local villagers. That was followed by ‘Everyday Life in a Syrian Village’ (1974) and ‘The Chickens’ (1977) amounting to scathing critiques of government’s failure to support the rural poor.
Born in Damascus Omar Amiralay was son of an army officer of Turkish extraction and whose mother was Lebanese. He went to Paris to study drama in 1965. The student upheaval in Paris in 1968 was a formative event for him.