Film Archive

International Programme 2015
9 Days – From My Window in Aleppo Thomas Vroege, Floor van der Meulen

The photographer Issa Touma can’t leave is flat in Aleppo – there’s a fierce battle raging on his doorstep: Assad’s army against the insurgents, and then the IS enters the fray.

9 Days – From My Window in Aleppo

Documentary Film
Netherlands,
Syria
2015
13 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Jos de Putter
Thomas Vroege, Floor van der Meulen
Issa Touma
Thomas Vroege, Floor van der Meulen
Issa Touma
Tom Jansen
The photographer Issa Touma can’t leave is flat in Aleppo – there’s a fierce battle raging on his doorstep: Assad’s army against the insurgents, and then the IS enters the fray. Issa points his camera at himself and, through the lowered blinds, out of the window, producing an authentic image that may seem familiar to people from conflict regions: televised news images, the sounds of real fighting outside and the “normality” of everyday life – the perversions of war.

Zaza Rusadze

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
International Programme 2017
Greetings from Aleppo Issa Touma, Floor van der Meulen, Thomas Vroege

The Syrian photographer Issa Touma travels from Europe to his native city of Aleppo, visiting his family, old friends and students who still live there.

Greetings from Aleppo

Documentary Film
Netherlands,
Syria
2017
17 minutes
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Jos de Putter, Bas Vroege
Issa Touma, Floor van der Meulen, Thomas Vroege
Darius Timmer
Issa Touma
Floor van der Meulen, Thomas Vroege
Tom Jansen
The Syrian photographer Issa Touma travels from Europe to his native city of Aleppo, visiting his family, old friends and students who still live there. It’s a film about the daily life and art of survival in the face of war and destruction, about the tragedy and absurdity of life in an extreme situation. Above all, it brings home with horrifying clarity how little the news images correspond to the real life and goings-on in Aleppo.

Frederik Lang

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
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

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

Tournesols - Al Rastan

Documentary Film
Syria
2011
25 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Al Rastan, Syria, August 2011. Neither the Ottoman Empire nor the French occupation nor any feudal lord over the course of millennia could have done to this city what its own army managed in a day.
It’s been more than a year now, but the annihilation of this city is still a symbol of what is happening in and with Syria at the moment.
Rough, shaky images take us into destroyed houses. A coat fluttering in the wind made Assad’s army assume there was a sniper behind the window and shell a whole house to pieces. Soldiers openly professing themselves to be deserters, moved by the massacre in their hometown to finally join the Free Syrian Army. Women mourning their dead children and helplessly crying over ruined washing machines.
“What’s the use of an army who shoot their own citizens and protect only the president?” “How can a whole city suddenly be populated only by terrorists, Western agents, criminals and armed gangs?” Mangy cats looking for food. So many questions and no answer in sight.
– Lina Dinkla