Film Archive

From My Syrian Room

Documentary Film
France,
Germany,
Lebanon,
Syria
2014
70 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Nathalie Combe, Heino Deckert, Georges Schoucair, Myriam Sassine, Hazem Alhamwi
Hazem Alhamwi
Sivan
Hazem Alhamwi, Ghassan Katlabi
Florence Jacquet
Hazem Alhamwi
Nuzha Al Nazer, Frédéric Maury
A feeling of oppression creeps in. Hazem Alhamwi’s nib scratches over a black and white sketch worthy of Hieronymus Bosch. Apocalyptic motives and mordant satire are his speciality and were his salvation. In a country like Syria, where everything, even breathing – as someone bitterly comments – was controlled, havens were needed. Art that resigns itself to being non-public, can be one. This film was made when the protests following the Arab Spring raised hopes that something might change: saying out loud at last what was suppressed and would have lead to long prison sentences for decades. The director talks to friends and relatives to find causes and origins, beginning with childhood experiences of propaganda and personality cults, adaptation and fear. Today, when events happen so fast, we are in the age of fast media. Alhamwi’s nuanced tones, associative motives and trips into the visual worlds of childhood have a hard time keeping up in a present in which Syria is crushed between religious and ethnic interests as well as those of foreign countries. The voices from Alhamwi’s room are echoes of a time when people demanded democratisation and freedom. The film records those short moments when the opposition tried to form and articulate itself. The time allotted to the idealists was very short.
Cornelia Klauß
German Competition 2014
No Land's Song Ayat Najafi

Composer Sara wants to organise a concert of female singers in Tehran – in a country where female solo voices are banned. A political thriller and a musical journey.

No Land's Song

Documentary Film
France,
Germany
2014
90 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Gunter Hanfgarn, Rouven Rech, Teresa Renn, Anne Grange
Ayat Najafi
Koohyar Kalari, Sarah Blum
Julia Wiedwald, Schokofeh Kamiz
Ayat Najafi
Sasan Nakhai, Dana Farzanehpour, Julien Brossier
“The female voice is fading away.” Iranian composer Sara Najafi’s statement must be taken literally, for the Islamic revolution of 1979 banned female singers from appearing in public in Iran. They are not allowed to perform solo any more, unless to an exclusively female audience. Recordings of former female icons can only be bought on the black market. What a grievous loss. But Sara is determined to refresh the cultural memory by roaming Teheran in the footsteps of famous singers of the 1920s and 60s and is about to revive the female voices in the present: she courageously plans an evening of Iranian and French soloists to rebuild shattered cultural bridges.
A concert that’s not allowed to take place. For two and a half years, director Ayat Najafi, who lives in Berlin today and shows a flair for the right scene, follows the preparations between Teheran and Paris that are always touch and go. What’s still possible, what goes too far? Sara’s regular audiences at the Ministry of Culture shed light on the interior logic and arbitrariness of the system, though they can only be heard (always to a black screen). Can intercultural solidarity and the revolutionary power of music accomplish anything here? A political thriller and at the same time a musical journey, this film never loses sight of its real centre: the female voice.

Lars Meyer



Prize of the Youth Jury 2014