How can we then suppose that one man can tell the truth? Does he believe that in writing this book he will lead others to tell the truth also? What makes it possible for us as human beings to face the facts, to manufacture new ones, or to ignore some and focus on others?… None of these things is within the capacity of a solitary individual to produce; and none is possible without some sense of communal or collective commitment to assign them a more than personal validity.
Edward Said (1984)
Narrating the impact of catastrophe is both an impossibility and an absolute necessity. Seven years into the war in Syria, this fifth forum looks to Syrian filmmakers and the stories of individuals, all of whom occupy a different place in the conflict; a fighter, a family under siege, and refugees in exile. This forum questions methods of narrating the war in Syria through the intimacy of the individual, in both their own words and in the representation of lived experiences.
With special thanks to Rania Stephan and Bidayyat.
Part 1: By invitation (30m)
Ghiath Al Haddad and Saeed Al Batal – Front Line
Mattar Ismaeel – Love During the Siege
Part 2: By invitation (45m)
Yasser Kassab – On the Edge of Life
Immaterial Collection II: Forum brings together video works by the acclaimed artists in Beirut Art Center’s Media Library with new works selected from our open call to artists from the MENA region, creating forums for conversation between two unique collections of artworks.
Over 100 established and early career artists submitted work, inspiring connections with works in our Media Library. Selected videos from each will be screened in a series of four distinct forums to stimulate conversation and debate over drinks on the terrace afterwards. A fifth forum of video works, From Syria, considers some of the ways in which the continuing war is being discussed and represented through video.
This second installment of Immaterial Collection is curated by BAC’s visiting researcher Joy Stacey.
Biographies and Synopses, Part 1: By Invitation
Front Line (2014) 0:12:40
Ghiath Al Haddad and Saeed Al Batal
This film was born at the frontline of the outskirts of Damascus between the suburb of Jobar and the Abbasyeen Square in central Damascus, born between life and death, between beginnings and endings, between the rebel Free Syrian Army and the Syrian regime’s army, between the sniper and his rifle, between the voice of Fayrouz and the sound of bullets. Produced by Bidayyat.
Born in 1989 in Yabrod, Syria, Ghiath Al Haddad is a filmmaker and visual artist with producing and videographer experience. He works in both Syria and Lebanon on fictional and factual films. The co-founder of a number of open spaces across Beirut such as “Riwaq Beirut” and “Workshop51”. Ghiath also participates in various civil society initiatives such as “Humans of Syria”, contributing graphic design work and films that are featured on websites and in exhibition spaces globally.
Born in 1988 in Tartous, Syria, Saeed Al Batal is a citizen journalist, photographer and movie-maker. He gave many trainings on photography and news reporting. He worked as a reporter for many radios. He writes articles on the Syrian current situation to worldwide agencies/institutions. He is one of the founders of an online gallery entitled Sam Lenses.
Love During the Siege (2015) 0:15:35
More than two years have passed, and the Syrian regime still besieges the Southern suburbs of Damascus where a population of more than 100,000 people live until today. During those two years, more than 200 died of hunger and the lack of medical care. The remaining still live under the siege, surviving only by what grows from the earth such as grass and other green leaves and vegetables. They fight the siege and hunger through hope and love they have learned to find during the hardest of time. Produced by Bidayyat.
Mattar Ismaeel is the fake name for a media activist who is living and working in Syria.
Biographies and Synopses, Part 2: By Invitation
On the Edge of Life (2017) 0:45:00
A personal poetic film, Yaser transcended from a remote and an empty rest stop where he and his partner Rima work and live after a tough journey. He builds a new relationship with his father and his family in Aleppo through noisy voice calls and messages, to share mourning. Produced with a grant from Bidayyat.
Born in 1988 in Syria, Yasser kassab entered the field of Photography while studying Economics in Aleppo University. In 2012, he made a short video Take it which was screened in many festivals in USA and Europe. In 2017 he made a short video Mixed media which premiered in Independent Days 17| International Film festival, Germany. In 2017 On the edge of life his first feature documentary film which premiered in Cinema du reel film festival and got the Joris Ivens / Cnap Award as a best first film, and got best Mid-Length Documentary Award, in the 58th edition of Festival dei Popoli, and best documentary and best mid-length documentary at the 15th edition of Tirana Film Festival, and screened in many festivals like, IDFA, RIDM, Tempo, EDOC.