With the duration of the war in Syria, and an increasing complexity resulting from divergent aspirations and interests of internal and external actors, it has become difficult to distinguish among conflict parties and to recognize people’s interests. More significantly, in this time of complexity the people’s needs and voices vanish as they are faced with dominating mainstream discourses and one-sided coverage from the media.
The six-part film series Beyond the War features documentary movies from and on Syria followed by discussions with guests. Here, different issues related to Syrian society and politics before and after 2011 (start of uprising) will be highlighted, like the development of Syrian society, the political system and possibilities for participation, the role of religion and secularism, Kurdish issues and women rights.
Amer Katbeh studied Humanities and English Literature at the University of Damascus, Syria. Next to and after his undergraduate studies, he worked for the Syrian Red Crescent and subsequently for the UN Refugee Commission (UNHCR) in Damascus. Amer Katbeh has been doing his doctorate in Peace and Conflict Studies at Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg since July 2016. In addition to the conflict transformation and the political systems in Egypt and Syria, the relationship between state and religion as well as refugee research are among his priorities. In 2013 he co-founded the Friedenskreis Syrien e.V. (FKS) which stands for peaceful culture of conflict and constructive dialogue regarding the current conflict in Syria. Through workshops and discussion meetings, FKS creates spaces for individuals to discuss and exchange ideas and thoughts about different topics related to Syria and Syrians.
The film by Ossama Mohammed is a reflection on the foundation of the Syrian society in 1976. The film starts off hopefully enough, with different village children talking about their dream jobs. But it soon becomes clear that such innocent candour will be short-lived.
Lama Ahmad is a former Syrian diplomat. At bi'bak she talks about the establishment of the Syrian society and the effects of the Ba'ath regime on it.
The city of Kobani became a ghost city after it was almost completely destroyed. However, some of its people decided to return to search for their memories despite the warning of specialists that the city is uninhabitable. As Kobani is also a tribal area with a special social structure, the film highlights women's participation in combat.
Shirwan Qasim, born and raised in the Syrian city of Kobani, earned his diploma as a theater director in Iraq in 2011. Having worked in many TV formats as a photographer and editor since 2004, Quasim also began in 2009 with the production of documentary films that focus on political content as well as history, art and music.
Shot right before the uprising in Syria erupted in 2011, The Light in Her Eyes offers an extraordinary portrait of the role of Islam in Syrian society, putting a special focus on the challenges and dreams of Muslim women who want to live a life in line with Islam.
Dr. Mohammad Magout is a researcher at Leipzig University focusing on the role of religion and secularism in Syria.
Between Damascus, Sweida and Kobani (Ein Al Arab) in Syria, the film gathers stories of women who present their own testimonies about themselves, about love, life, death and sometimes about the revolution.
Director and screenwriter Nidal Hassan was born in 1973 in Tartous, Syria. His debut film Salty Skin was celebrated as a milestone of Syrian Independent Cinema. His documentary True Stories of Love, Life, Death and Sometimes Revolution was selected at the Marché du film at the Festival du Cannes 2013 / Doc Corner.
In the Syrian uprising, information technology and social media became crucial communication tools. The film features a skype-conversation about questions related to the uprising between the 83 years-old Riyad Al-Turk, a Syrian leftist opposition leader based in Syria, and the filmmaker who is based in Lebanon.
Tarek Aziza, is a Syrian researcher and writer focusing on political participation and activism in Syria.
The Immortal Sergeant documents a day in the life of filmmaker Ziad Kalthoum, who is recruted to the military as a sergeant with the beginning of the uprise in Syria. He is to lead the former Bassel Al-Assad cinema in Damascus as a military base. Every day after work, he returns to his old life and works as an assistant director. He accompanies the shooting with his handheld camera. The film crew and passers-by form a microcosm in which the different positions of the conflict meet. Many belong to the opposition, but some are also behind Al-Assad.
Ziad Kalthoum was born in Homs in 1981 and graduated after studies in film. Kalthoum’s first feature-length documentary The Immortal Sergeant (2013), deals with the schizophrenic daily life and encounters he experiences between his mandatory military service in the Syrian Army and his role as assistant director during the shooting of Ladder to Damascus.