Film Archive

Jahr

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
International Programme 2014
Our Terrible Country Mohammad Ali Atassi, Ziad Homsi

Syria: A young photographer accompanies a well-known dissident on his flight from the fighting, the ISIS and into exile. Rough and direct – reflections in a hail of bullets.

Our Terrible Country

Documentary Film
Syria
2014
85 minutes
subtitles: 
English
French

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Christin Luettich
Mohammad Ali Atassi, Ziad Homsi
Ziad Homsi, Saeed Al-Batal
Marwan Ziadeh
Mohammad Ali Atassi
Nadim Mishlawi
Act 1: Ziad Homsi, 24, photographer and freedom fighter, meets the intellectual and “doctor of the revolution”, Yassin al-Haj Saleh, in Ghouta, the first city liberated in the Syrian civil war. However far-fetched the idea might seem on the backdrop of ongoing fighting in the streets and the complete destruction of the city, Homsi begins to shoot a portrait of the famous dissident. At first insecure about how to deal with the other, an increasingly close relationship develops between the two.
Act 2: ar-Raqqa. Saleh’s hometown is conquered by ISIS terrorists, his brother arrested and detained. He has no choice – he must go back. Homsi accompanies him. After an exhausting 20-day journey through (still) liberated territory, they reach the town, only to hide from the ISIS fanatics there who hunt down everyone who’s intelligent, educated and an independent thinker. They don’t find the brother.
Act 3: forced exile. Saleh flees from the growing ISIS terror to Istanbul, where he also sees his young friend Homsi again – a meeting of two generations united by their revolution with all its hopes, disappointments and setbacks. The idea that was worth fighting and dying for is gone. What’s left is the hope of returning one day. To do what?
Matthias Heeder