Obaidah Zytoon and Andreas Dalsgaard
Toronto, IDFA, Bergen, Reykjavik, London, Dubai, Goteborg
A group of friends capture the de-evolution of Syria’s revolution into civil war.
One of a growing number of chronicles of Syria’s devastating conflict, this frank, personal project originated with Obaidah Zytoon, a host for an alternative radio station, and the film’s narrator. Swept up in the possibilities of the Arab Spring that saw freedom come to other nations in the region, Zytoon and her friends take to the streets – part of the mass of ordinary, previously apolitical populace who threatened the Assad regime. Understanding the power of the camera – as well as the target it places on the cameraperson – they film demonstrations and upload footage online, and, in some cases, suffer retribution at the hands of the regime. Through the course of Zytoon’s film, she and other shooters film the deteriorating conditions in the country between 2011 and 2013 as Syria descends into civil war, but the focus is less on the violence and destruction, and more on the impact on the people as they face a complex, shifting battleground – not just physically, but ideologically as new factions enter the conflict. Working with Danish filmmaker Andreas Dalsgaard to shape her material, Zytoon explicitly acknowledges the almost surreal aspect of filming the war, as signaled by the project’s title, with various participants exploiting the propagandistic potential of media for their own ends. At its core, however, the film presents a bracing study of the personal costs of the Syrian conflict, as Zaytoon and her friends struggle to survive as their homeland goes up in flames.