A film that follows two friends through four nightmarish years of the Syrian revolution has lifted some of the top prizes at the Venice film festival, which ends Saturday.
Still Recording, a war documentary by Ghiath Ayoub and Saeed Al Batal, records what happened to two idealistic art students after they were swept up in the fervor of the Syrian revolution. It picked up two awards at Venice Critics’ Week.
Friends Saeed and Milad leave Damascus and go to Douma in 2011, a suburb under rebel control, to set up a radio station and recording studio. There they struggle to keep a flicker of hope and creativity alive as they endure fighting, siege and famine.
Ayoub and Al Batal, who shot 500 hours of footage, told AFP that with so little reporting coming out of Syria it was important to bear witness.
“We started doing this because there wasn’t, and still isn’t, an efficient working media in Syria because it’s not allowed to enter and if it is, it’s under the control of the regime,” said Al Batal.
“Art is nothing if it is not resistance, even if there isn’t revolution… it is resistance against a huge amount of emotions you have got inside you. Emotions need to come out and expressing them through art can do that,” he added.
Founded in Venice in August 1932, the Venice Film Festival is the oldest film festival in the world and one of the “Big Three” film festivals. It is part of the Venice Biennale, an exhibition of modern Italian art founded by the Venice City Council on 19 April 1893. The Golden Lion is awarded to the best film while the Volpi Cup is awarded to the best actor/actress.
The Syrian Coalition earlier stressed the importance of documenting the crimes of the Assad regime and highlighting them on all occasions and at the various international fora. It pointed out that these films can influence the Western public opinion and expose the policies of countries that deceive their people by ignoring the atrocities the Assad regime is committing against Syrian civilians.
Cries from Syria, another war documentary, was nominated for four News and Documentary Emmy awards in 2017. The film looked at the Syrian revolution and Assad’s crimes against civilians, especially children and women. It provided harrowing scenes of women and children being subjected to the worst methods of torture. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)