Yaser Kassab: On the Edge of Life

It feels unfinished, sketchy this personal film by Syrian Yaser Kassab. It is one long reflection and interpretation of, as the director has formulated it in the catalogue of Cinéma du Réel, “loss and grief”. Far from mainstream. In dark images, often metaphoric, from empty spaces, “detached from reality” as he says, with the fragments of skype conversations with his father, who does not want to leave the country, and at a later point states that we live “like bears in winter sleep”.

The synopsis: “Yaser and his partner Rima leave Syria to Lebanon, but after receiving the news that his younger brother passed away in Aleppo, they end up in a remote and an empty place in Turkey. In this place where the silence and the monotonous daily life being broken by the loud noise of the family calls whom still living in Aleppo. To spend a year and a half, which was almost like a slumber and a coma, waking up every day on the recurring nightmares echo.”

It is one of those rare films that does not move but places itself in a waiting mood full of sadness, memories and longing for a better life. A very much welcomed essayistic lyrical addition to the many war-filled documentaries from the country.

Got the Joris Ivens/ Cnap Award at Cinéma du Réel

Syria, 2017, 45 mins.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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