“Three Star Revolution”: Criticism with a smile from within the uprising

“To shed light on the problems we face (within the Syrian revolution), but with a smile. This is the goal of “Three Star Revolution” a comedy show. Program presenter Abdulwahhab Al-Mulla described the 20-minute program as being, “comedic, critical and contentious.”

Though activists had been speaking about the program for months, it was finally born in the month of Ramadan, July 2013. Al-Mulla hoped to draw attention to the concerns of the people of Aleppo, and to criticize mistakes that must be correction.

Where does the name “Three Star Revolution” come from? “Good things tend to have a five-star rating,” Al-Mulla said, “but our revolution is still three stars. We hope that through our discussion of problems and our attempt to fix them, we can make it a five star revolution.”

The show is aired on TV on the following channels: Aleppo Today, Syria Al-Shaab, Deir ez-Zor TV, as well as on YouTube. It is funded by “a group of expatriates in the US who liked the idea, so they sent cameras and lighting kits, without any stipulations,” Al-Mulla said. Among the groups on the ground that have participated in the project are Aleppo News Network, idea, and Itqan (Perfection). It is a successful collaboration between people inside and outside Syria, despite the misconception that the two don’t work well together.

The first three episodes of the program focus on people’s concerns, related to both everyday affairs as well as larger issues. The show tells a story of heroism and steadfastness of a people who have been abandoned, and yet are still able to give back. One of the characters is a man in a wheelchair, who, despite his disability, moves around and cares for plants in the garden. The show also tells the true story of the Aleppo crossing, in an episode that attempts to clarify the narratives being told on mainstream media.

Relief work is also discussed in the show, which features the opinions of the people, as well as of the groups responsible for the work. There is an open criticism of mistakes being made in the humanitarian relief process, and possible solutions are included as well.

Though the production team is optimistic, they face a number of difficulties. They are short staffed and lack experiences. “The production team is composed of amateurs, we are not professionals. Because we want everything related to the revolution to be top quality, we spent a lot of time searching for professionals, but did not find any. We began experimenting, and thankfully, we were able to create something that people appreciated.”

The first episode of "Three Star Revolution" Source: Youtube

The team attempts to instill ideals such as “optimism, forgiveness, hope, benevolence, and reason,” Al-Mulla said, adding that their audience grew in a short period of time. “More people responded to us than we expected.”

Even when they discuss topics that are sad, the team tries to remain optimistic. “When we talk about martyrs, or about the country’s political situation, we often have to go through several takes before we get to a light enough mood.”

The team hopes that the program will gain recognition and become an official TV program, not because they are searching for fame, but because they have a message they want to deliver. “If it were not for the revolution, none of us would have a voice,” Al-Mulla said. He sees “Three Star Revolution” as an opportunity to speak the truth in order to protect the revolution.

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Illustation by Dima Nechawi Graphic Design by Hesham Asaad