Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait (Cannes review) – the documentary on the Syrian civil war in Cannes

Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait (Cannes review) – the documentary on the Syrian civil war in Cannes

We are in only the second day of the Cannes Film Festival, but I am sure that there will not be another movie, so socking as Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait, the documentary for the (on-going) Syrian civil war.

The documentary by Usama Muhammad and Wiam Simav Bedirxan, is not a creaton of its directors literally speaking. As one can see in the first scene of the film, it consists of 1001 videos from cameras of protesters, people against Asad’s dictaroship, but also of military personell of the Syrian army. The result is an informative but the same time shocking and realistic picture of what is happening in Syria the last years, while the rest of the planet, basically, just watches.

In Syria every day youtubers film then die, others kill, then film, underlines the documentary in its beginning. That’s what we are going to see, people filming their tough lives and their protest’s death toll in contemporary Syria and soldiers filming their brutalities. Usama Muhammad, was in Syria till 2011. He is a cinematographer and he filmed or collected plenty of videos from demonstrations and other incidents. Mostly he found videos from the unbelievable brutalities of Bashar al-Assad’s army :

– the tortures that a protester suffered. He lies naked, forced to kiss the boot of a soldier or the picture of Assad while suffering constant beating.

– families literally losing their children in the investigation rooms of Assad’s police, with the officers telling them to forget of their children and make new ones. They are even provocatively suggesting the elterns of the protesters that if they cannot have other children, they could just bring over their their women or daughters.

– the brutality of the forces and the riot police, that hit or even kill unarmed men who have done nothing but disagreeing with the current regime. Specifically, a soldier describes in a video how he got orders to go with a team to fight terrorists. In the field he only found unarmed protesters. He was one of the few that didn’t follow the orders, putting the essence of the law, above the out of law actions of the regime.

In all these the documentary adds up the humongous destruction, the bloody bodies of people and animals in the streets of evacuated or sieged cities, as along with the constant fear and the propaganda from the Assad regime.

After Usama Muhammad left Syria he had precious help from a Kurdish girl that asked him for advice of what she should film under the circumstances. The girl’s name meaning was the title that the creators picked for the film: Silvered Water. We will see various aspects of her life in the second part of the movie. From fear of death to hope and from there to despair and denial to submit to the powers of the country’s dictator.

Muhammad lives now in Paris and feels as a coward when he tries to keep her Kurdish friend out of trouble. In the meanwhile he cuts the videos that he possess and gets a result of a powerful film, that is not only based on the hard images that it depicts, but also in the way that Muhammad tries to investigate the cinema of the protesters, the cinema of the torturers or the cinema of the animals, as he calls the various instances of his videos. He finally even questions what is exactly cinema and why these pictures he presents to us is indeed cinema, because of their significance.

The only flaw of the film could be that it is only centered on the facts of the brutalities and the life of the guerrillas, while there is no historical information on what caused the uprising against Assad’s regime, i.e. the cause and the essence of the protest that led to a bloody civil war.

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