SILVERED WATER, Syria Self-Portrait by Ossama Mohammed og Wiam Simav Bedirxan
This is my recommendation of what not to miss at the CPH:DOX festival going on in Copenhagen these days.
I wish I had never seen Silvered Water. Images will haunt me for the rest of my life, scenes in my head will never go away. Horror. Hell. And yet I strongly recommend you to go see the film that is screened twice at the festival. First, because it is Syria, there is so little access to information about life there and, of course, we have to see what the two directors Ossama Mohammed and Wiam Simav Bedirxan want to show us. But also because this is an exceptional film, I wouldn’t hesitate to call it a masterpiece. It is poetry, in the dialogs, in the images, in the editing.
Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait is film about the encounter and the following correspondence between the Syrian filmmaker Ossama Mohammed, exiled in Paris, and the young Kurdish woman Wiam Simav Bedirxan, living in what is left of Homs. This is how Muhammed himself introduces the film:
« In Syria, everyday, YouTubers film then die; others kill then film. In Paris, driven by my inexhaustible love for Syria, I find that I can only film the sky and edit the footage posted on YouTube. From within the tension between my estrangement in France and the revolution, an encounter happened. A young Kurdish from Homs began to chat with me, asking: ‘If your camera were here, in Homs, what would you be filming?”. Silvered Water is the story of that encounter ». (From the French producer Les Films d’Ici’s website).
You get to understand the pain and the guilt of the exiled. Mohammed expresses his agony in a strong cinematographic language of metaphors, he is the one who has lost his freedom, his life has stopped. In the first part of the film, we see horrible scenes of torture and executions that are unbearable to watch. Raw images captured with mobile phones by the torturers, the security forces of the regime, and put out on the Internet. You can only try to imagine what pain Mohammed have inflicted on himself in working with these images, seeing them over and over again when doing the editing. And we understand that, strangely enough, the besieged Bedirxan is the one who is the most free and alive. The courageous woman, who has turned cinematographer to survive the in the midst of the civil war, becomes his eyes and his hope. The title, Silvered Water, is the signification of her Kurdish name Simav.
The original music, beautiful and devastating, is composed and performed by Mohammed’s wife, the renowned Syrian singer Noma Omran, originally from Homs.
So this is a personal and painful film that is very hard to watch, and it is even harder to fathom that since the premiere in Cannes in May this year, the situation in Syria has only gotten worst.
Ossama Mohammed himself is present for a Q&A at the screening on Friday the 14th. Together with Omar Amiralay (who passed away in February 2011, at the very beginning of the revolution), he is the key figure of Syrian cinema. His filmography is not long, under the Assad reign how could it be, none of the two were friends of the regime: The documentary Step by Step (1978), and the two feature films Stars in Broad Daylight (1988) and Sacrifices (2002), both rare films that, as far as I know, are not in distribution. After having seen Silvered Water you only want to see more, and I hope that Cinemateket in Copenhagen will soon choose to show the entire oeuvre of this clearly unique filmmaker.
Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait (Syria, France, 92 min.): Monday November 10th at 16.30 and Friday 14th at 19.00 (with the presence of the director) at Nordisk Film Palads.