Syrian films produced amongst conflict show a different side to the war-torn nation
Australian audiences saw a side to Syria that was vastly different from the the despair and catastrophe of war at the inaugural Shaam Syrian Film Festival during May.
The three narrative films were shot in Syria during the on-going conflict but they were produced with the intention of celebrating the country’s rich culture and the strength of the Syrian people, many of whom continue to live their day-to-day lives amid conflict.
The films ‘Mariam,’ ‘The Father,’ and ‘Syrians’ were shown at theatres in Sydney and Melbourne, with the films’ Syrian director and actors also touring with the festival to share their vision of Syria.
Director Basil Al Khatib said art, in particular film, had been an important medium for Syrian resilience.
“We all participate in this war in our own way, and this is my way, with a camera and these films,” Mr Al Khatib said,
He said all three films were shot in the streets of Damascus.
“Making these films was extremely dangerous, each day we would go to work and we wouldn’t know if we would come home alive,” Mr Al Khatib said.
“But working under pressure produces the best results, and we all just had to believe in what we are doing, believe in our country,” he said.
Actress Dima Kandalaft said she was humbled to see Syrian people, many refugees who have been settled on humanitarian visas, happy in their new home of Australia.
“Syrian people here love their new home, they are so happy here but still nostalgic for their Syrian home,” Ms Kandalaft said.
“There are still many Syrians working and protecting their country, trying to get on with their lives too,” she said.
Actress Maysoun Abou Assad said it was important for her to go to work every day to make these films.
“We need to show the world that there is more to Syria than refugees,” Ms Abou Assad said.
“These films demonstrate the strength and resilience of the human spirit and the human ability to overcome danger,” she said.
“We hope it gives the Australian people a chance to learn more about Syrian culture,” she said.
Mr Al Khatib said that despite the complicated situation in Syria, he has hopes that Syria will one day be united in peace.
“To achieve peace I think that we must all do our bit, we all have a responsibility to end this war,” he said.
The Shaam Syrian Film festival was run by the Shaam Syrian Film Associated Inc to provide a platform for Syrian cinema to be screened in Australia and raise its profile as a premier international film festival.
AMES Australia Staff Writer