Ghatfan Ghannoum: "There is no creativity without freedom"

23 February 2015

Fear of individual repercussions has dissuaded many Syrians from joining the Syrian revolution. For some however, the ongoing reign of a brutal dictator was even more fearsome. Artist and filmmaker Ghatfan Ghannoum had been wrapping up a documentary for the National Organization for Cinema, when the Syrian Uprising swept through the country in March 2011. Refusing to be a passive bystander, Ghannoum abandoned the project and his life in Damascus, and followed the melody of freedom that warbled ecstatically in his hometown Homs.

Born in 1977, Ghatfan Ghannoum is a Syrian artist who graduated from the audio and visual arts academy in Moldova. The Finland-based artist began filming documentaries with the outbreak of the uprising, to document the crimes of Assad.

After witnessing the grisly events in Homs, Ghannoum began working on a short documentary titled Revolutionary City in the city of al-Qusayr, south of Homs. In the movie, the artist attempted to portray the consequences of saying no to a tyrant, from the enforced siege on the city to the starvation of its people. Revolutionary City has been screened in several places in Europe and was aired on Finnish Television.

In Finland, the artist participated in poetry audio recordings about the revolution. He also has contributions in the field of writing and acting, which he considers to be performing his duty as a citizen first, as well as an artist in support of a just cause, such as the revolution of the Syrian people.

Ghannoum believes that art and freedom are absolutely inseparable. “Art is a product of passion that can only flourish in an environment that is infinitely free. There is no creativity without freedom, by which I mean unrestrained artistic vision.”

The Syrian filmmaker recently finished filming his new documentary Boarding, which is expected to be premiered soon. In boarding, Ghannoum dives into the ordeal of Syrians who risk their lives to reach Europe from Greece, the most important entry point for migrants. Today, he prepares to film a new documentary examining the Islamization of the Syrian uprising.

As an artists who has experienced first-hand the bombardment, death and horror, Ghatfan Ghannoum is still guided today by that latent cry of freedom, to make art that tells the story of his people and their dream of freedom.


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Illustation by Dima Nechawi Graphic Design by Hesham Asaad