The Film Festival of Free Syria's Third Edition

20 January 2014

The third edition of the Film Festival of Free Syria took place between December 21-27, 2013. The increasingly tragic situation on the Syrian ground casted a big shadow over the festival, with the humanitarian crisis front and center. The pressure on filmmakers and the fact that many of them are attending more official festivals and awards has lowered the participation compared to the two previous editions.

One of the festival's goals is to honor the memory of the young activists who used their mobile phones to record events on the ground at the beginning of the uprising. The project embraces the central role of mobile devices and the importance of such footage in the documentation of events on the ground and the abuses committed by the authorities.

Despite having a smaller number of participants, the quality of this year's movies highly satisfied the audience engaging with the festival. There was a high degree of diversity and professionalization of the work, which will hopefully set the foundations for a new Syrian school of cinema.

Regarding the criteria followed to choose the films, the organizers explained, in a conversation with Syria Untold, that “the basic requirement is that the works focus on a specific human aspect in an artistic manner. Other than that, we leave it to the audience to choose their favorite.”

For four days, the films were played and then the room was open for voting. “Through the film festival's facebook page, everyone could vote for their favorite. The last day, the four finalists were shown again and the viewers had 48 hours to chose the winner.”

Out of the 28 films presented this year, the four finalists were the following: Syrian Children's Dreams, a short film that depicts the tragic effects of violence on children; Hammam, which follows 9-year-old Aleppo boy Ossama on his daily journey to find food, clothing and burning materials to keep his family warm (Syria Untold wrote a story on this); A Dream of Powerful Monsters, and A Normal Day.

The winner of this year's edition was Syrian Children's Dreams, by Mazen Khayrat, whose main theme were the human rights organizations focused on children's rights.

The Film Festival of Free Syria's organizers aim to continue to build bridges between Syrian filmmakers and the general audience. They dream of the moment when the daily suffering of the population will come to an end, and they hope that by then the country will have an increasingly independent and quality Syrian cinema.


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Illustation by Dima Nechawi Graphic Design by Hesham Asaad