Nationality: Syria

The Damascene Collar of the Dove by Mahmoud Darwish

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This is In Damascus (في دمشق), a stunningly beautiful film by the Syrian filmmaker and motion graphic designer Waref Abu Quba. Here’s the description from Vimeo:

Winner | Outstanding Cinematography in the Autumn Shorts Film Festival, Somerset, Kentucky USA 2015.

Official Selection:
• ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival Münster|Berlin – 2016
• Arab Film Festival, San Francisco, CA – 2016
• 9th Annual Houston Palestine Film Festival – 2015
• Autumn Shorts Film Festival, Somerset, Kentucky USA – 2015

Watch In Damascus VFX Breakdown and read the description for technical Information about the film on this link.

This film is about Damascus, an 11,000 years old city, the most ancient & precious of cities, set to the poetry of the world famous Palestinian poet / author Mahmoud Darwish.

More than three years have passed since the idea inception up to this moment. This project was my companion during my staying abroad, it was like a friend and an enemy at the same time, sometimes I spend hours working on it, and sometimes I leave it for months.
Now after two months of heavy work, I’ve finished it, and I would like to present it to you … I hope you like it.

Be sure to watch it on the largest screen you have.

identity: other by Anna Banout

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I found the combination of found text montage and video footage shot by children simply irresistible in this author-made videopoem by Anna Banout, who says on Vimeo:

Identity. Otherness. Intolerance. Prejudice. Freedom. Integrity. As a half-Syrian girl growing up in Poland, these issues have accompanied me my whole life – I was other before I even knew the true meaning of this word. In this film I’ve combined footage from my childhood – multicultural safe place; a place where otherness didn’t really exist – with a monologue on the theme of identity. The videos were mostly taken by children – me, my sister and cousins – and I’ve decided to choose them as they captured the fragility of seemingly unimportant moments that only a child could capture. The monologue is a fake poem – it was assembled by me from variety of speeches given by poets, writers, actors, artists, activists and other inspirational people whose words I found refreshing in the identity-themed discussion.
Who do I identify myself as? Other.

The City by Ghayath Almadhoun and What Gas by Marie Silkeberg

This innovative videopoem about the destruction of Damascus, The City, alternates lines from a poem by Ghayath Almadhoun, translated from Arabic by Catherine Cobham and read by female voices, and a poem by Marie Silkeberg, translated from Swedish by Frank Perry and read by male voices. The readers are people from the streets of Stockholm. Silkeberg composed the sound montage and Almadhoun the montage of found footage from the internet. He mentioned in a recent interview that the film has been screened in more than 150 festivals.

The Celebration by Ghayath Almadhoun and Marie Silkeberg

This is of the best poems about war I’ve ever read (or heard). It’s by the Syrian-born Palestinian poet Ghayath Almadhoun, from التفاصيل (The Details), translated by Catherine Cobhamin, in a film adaptation that he made in collaboration with the Swedish poet Marie Silkeberg—a partnership described in a recent interview in Arabic Literature (in English). The English titling floats and disappears above a bombed-out city: Berlin. As Almadhoun describes it in the interview,

The material you saw, this is Berlin, and nobody saw it before. Not even the Germans. I have thirteen minutes from July 1945, forty-five days after the war, somebody filmed it.

Yes, National Geographic maybe they bought five seconds, and I think in the BBC documentary they bought around seven seconds, because it’s so expensive. Nobody knows how I got it, and I think if they saw it, they will take me to court. Because the owner of this material is one of the biggest companies in Hollywood. But still, I want the people to see this. No one has seen Berlin like this.

I use eight minutes of it in this film.

AL: And the poem?

GM: The poem is written about Damascus. But it has in the beginning something about Berlin. And I feel that there is no difference between destruction and destruction. Yes, the story of Berlin is different — they attacked the world, the world attacked them.

What’s happening in Syria is different. The destruction in Syria is more. If you look at the suburbs of Damascus, you will find that most of the buildings have fallen down. While in Berlin it was only the roofs. So I can compare the situation in Syria for example with Hiroshima or Dresden, only.

Do read the rest of the interview, which was especially interesting to me for its defense of poet-made films, as opposed to some of the very slick animations that are appearing online and at poetry film festivals these days:

Why should I only write my poem and wait until a professional can make a video? He always chooses classic and simple things because he’s not a poet.

I want the poets to make poetry films, and I and I want the focus to be on the poem. If the focus is on the film, then go to the short film.

The quality of the poem should be added to the question. The animations are really beautiful, and some of them are really expensive. I remember one of the films cost maybe one million dollars. They got a prize. For me, if I was on the jury, I would not give them a prize. Because the poem was really bad.

Almadhoun gets to say this, in my opinion, because he is both a masterful poet and a good filmmaker. I’m also grateful to him for making his YouTube channel public and the videos shareable. You can expect to see his other collaborations with Silkeberg here soon.

Road to Damascus: Journey with a Syrian poet

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An anonymous Syrian poet muses on real terror versus sleep terrors:

The same man who is trying to shoot me is me. I have no face in the dream, I am the man and me. This horror of the dream stays long.

British filmmaker Roxana Vilk explains:

This film is one of three shorts I made during a week in Beirut in May 2011. The films were commissioned by Reel Festivals and Creative Scotland and the remit was make a series of short films “inspired by” the festival of poets. It was an amazing week, it’s not every day that you get to meet poets from Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Scotland.

We were also meant to go to Damascus but as the political situation worsened that leg of the festival was cancelled. However, I still wanted to reflect the current situation in one of the films, so I interviewed one of the Syrian poets about his dreams. That was the starting point for this film.

poem by Syrian refugee Tarek

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Lebanese filmmaker Eliane Raheb directs. From the Free Arab website:

Since the start of the revolutions, Friday has become a symbolic day for all Arab protestors, it is the day to take down the streets and ask for changing the regime. From his refuge in Beirut, Tarek who is unable to demonstrate against the regime in Lattakia, uses his pen to write a poem, in tribute to the protesters everywhere in Syria