Film Archive

Countries (Film Archive)

Cleaning Schaerbeek

Documentary Film
Belgium,
Lebanon
2017
19 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Farah Kassem
Farah Kassem
Yohan Dumas
Farah Kassem
Farah Kassem
Farah Kassem
Farah Kassem
When the terror alert level in Belgium was raised, the Interior Minister made a pithy statement that he was going to clean up the Molenbeek district – by now a synonym for Islamist breeding ground. Meanwhile a resident of the Schaerbeek district, also predominantly populated by migrants, discovered that mysterious things were going on in front of her window. She informed the authorities and filmed what’s happening … An equally intelligent and amusing essayist look at paranoia and the obsession with security.

Frederik Lang

Damascus, My First Kiss

Documentary Film
Lebanon,
Qatar,
Syria
2012
42 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Lina Al Abed, SakaDo Productions
Lina Al Abed
Wael al Kak
Joud Gorani
Andrijana Stojkovic, Rami Nihawi
Lina al Abed
Ghanem Al Mir
In her third documentary the Palestinian-Jordanian filmmaker Lina Alabed once more addresses the role of women in the Arab world. The location is Damascus, Syria. The revolt against Assad’s regime hasn’t started yet. But there is tension in the air and the question of the limitations set for women by a male-dominated society must necessarily lead to the question of freedom. Three women talk about their relationship to their bodies and sexuality, about the pressures of tradition and feelings of guilt. Asma, a Muslim woman who was married at 16 when she had no idea what marriage means; Lina, the daughter of a wealthy Christian family, who regrets that she doesn’t know her body yet at the age of 45; at last the director herself and her very personal off-screen comments which forge the voices of this film into a single narrative. It’s surprising how frankly Asma and Lina describe their lives, surprising to the protagonists themselves. In a wonderful scene – Asma has just described how stroking her daughter in her arms was criticised as designed to incite sexual arousal – she looks into the distance, lost in thought. Then she turns her head towards the camera and says: Where are you taking me? So how can conditions be changed? Lina and Asma have freed their daughters from social pressure by allowing them to make their own life decisions, cutting a swath through the petrified social conditions at whose end the director envisions the freedom of humanity, independent of sex.
– Matthias Heeder

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

Home

Documentary Film
Lebanon,
Syria
2015
70 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Christin Luettich
Rafat Alzakout
Farah Kassem, Juma Hamdo, Joude Gorani, Rafat Alzakout
Zeina Aboul-Hosn
Rafat Alzakout
Raed Younan
What’s a good time for art? Perhaps a time when it seems utterly impossible and yet must be created, as a proof of vitality. Manbij in Northern Syria is one of the cities abandoned by the regime’s forces in 2012. The fighting, however, didn’t stop: Assad’s regime, the Free Syrian Army and increasingly the “Islamic State” are all waging an embittered war against each other. And yet in the midst of constant bombing campaigns and extreme hardship some form of public life is maintained by local councils and civic centres.

Director Rafat Alzakout, who emigrated to Beirut, drove to Manbij to see his friends and spend time with them for this film. He accompanies Ahmed, the ballet dancer, Mohamed, the former officer of the national army, and Taj, the former drawing teacher, in their attempts to lead a “normal life” under the circumstances and not to lose sight of their individual, artistic and social visions. Again and again they create provisional oases where people meet freely. The immediacy of direct observation and familiar interviews with friends as well as diary-like reflections create a beautiful balance between heroic song and everyday story, hope and disillusionment.

Ralph Eue

SAMT (Silence)

Animated Film
Lebanon
2016
15 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Chadi Aoun
Chadi Aoun
Fadi Tabbal
Chadi Aoun
Chadi Aoun
Chadi Aoun
Chadi Aoun
Fadi Tabbal
In a dictatorship of religious fanatics modern dance is the secret code of the silent resistance. At out-of-the-way places in town young people celebrate the hidden joy of life with their bodies, cope with the terror they experienced. Chadi Aoun’s drawn animation is an equally expressive and haunting depiction of an oppressive, restricted life and a colourful outbreak. Their indomitable will to live is choreographed as an expansive dance movement.

André Eckardt


Nominated for mephisto 97.6 Audience Award

Sugar Cage

Documentary Film
Egypt,
Lebanon,
Syria
2019
60 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Zeinah AlQahwaji, Ali Hammoud (Reader Films)
Zeinah AlQahwaji
Ali Assad, Hassan Ali
Zeinah AlQahwaji
Raya Yamisha
A swarm of storks circles above the barren plain. The migratory birds can move freely – unlike the director’s parents who are stuck in their apartment near Damascus. Every day they try to overcome the fear of a bomb impact, but also of isolation. The increasing infirmities of age don’t make the situation easier. Since the outbreak of the war in Syria, Zeinah AlQahwaji has visited her parents again and again and filmed them in their flat to find out what “home” means under such difficult circumstances. She consistently stays with them in their cramped apartment. Only the eyes and the camera constantly wander off into the distance, to the city. The apartment is a familiar refuge for her parents, though they are confined in it like in a cage.

In her feature-length film debut, the director weaves the material shot over several years into an intimate portrait. It is an unspectacular look at life in a war zone, far removed from journalistic reporting. The passing of time can be seen only in the changing seasons. The recurring interruptions of the water and power supply also provide a structure. But even the news seems monotonous: When international political attempts to help Syria are announced once again, the parents don’t even shrug their shoulders.

Annina Wettstein
Animadoc 2014
Suleima Jalal Maghout

The portrait of Suleima, one of thousands of anonymous women that fight against dependency and injustice in Syria.

Retrospective 2013
They Do Not Exist Mustafa Abu Ali

A title which quotes former Israeli Minister President Golda Meir. The film is a portrait in nine formally very diverse chapters of the Palestinian refugee camp of Nabatieh in southern Lebanon: its inhabitants’ solidarity with the fight for liberation ...

They Do Not Exist

Documentary Film
Lebanon
1974
25 minutes
subtitles: 
No

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

PLO
Mustafa Abu Ali
A title which quotes former Israeli Minister President Golda Meir. The film is a portrait in nine formally very diverse chapters of the Palestinian refugee camp of Nabatieh in southern Lebanon: its inhabitants’ solidarity with the fight for liberation, the anti-imperialist context and the destruction of Nabatieh by Israeli airstrikes in May 1974. The director, Mustafa Abu Ali, was one of the founding fathers of the PLO film organisation.

Irit Neidhardt

Tiny Souls

Documentary Film
France,
Jordan,
Lebanon,
Qatar
2019
85 minutes
subtitles: 
English
German

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Dina Naser
Dina Naser
Ronald Heu
Dina Naser, Hasan Abu Hammad
Najwa Khachimi, Qutaiba Barhamji
Dina Naser
Antonin Dalmasso
They and all the others will continue to inspire life, Dina Naser writes at the end of her film about three children of war in Syria. They grow up in a refugee camp in Jordan: Marwa is the eldest, then there’s her sister Ayah and finally Mahmoud, the youngest. They have seven other siblings, but the family was torn apart when one brother in Syria no longer wanted to serve in the army and thus the dictator Assad. Marwa is the heroine of the film. She will soon be grown-up or at least considered almost of marriageable age by her parents. Her mother and father now make sure she doesn’t go out any more. But she already has a boyfriend.

Dina Naser follows the three children’s fate and everyday life over an extended period of time, starting in 2014. The filmmaker even hands the camera temporarily over to her protagonists – for the time when she can’t be with them. This can and should be compared to the situation of Palestinian refugees in 1948, among them Dina Naser’s father, whose experiences are referenced by the director. This opens up a larger context for this story which is profoundly and universally human but at the same time linked closely to the complicated Syria and Middle East conflict by its wealth of detail.

Bert Rebhandl

Waves '98

Animated Film
Lebanon
2015
15 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Ely Dagher
Ely Dagher
Matthew Wilcock
Ely Dagher
Ely Dagher
Ely Dagher,Laure Escafadals, Chadi Aoun
Ely Dagher
Zelig Sound
A teenager in the city of Beirut in the late 1990s: a chimeric metropolis in a state of suspension, where the only way to escape loneliness leads inside the golden beast. The powerful mix of live footage and animation creates a sense of geography and date for this reflection about the director’s relationship to his birthplace. A cartography of isolation, boredom, disillusion, and chaos.

Victor Orozco