New Middle East Cinema
Return to Homs
dir. Talal Derki, Syria, 2013, 94 min. Presenters: Omar Al-Ghazzi & Salam Al-Kuntar
From 2011 to 2013, filmmaker Talal Derki followed the journey of two close friends whose lives had been upended by the battle raging in Syria. Nineteen-year-old Basset is a local soccer star—the goalkeeper for the Syrian national team. He has also become an iconic singer in the revolution. His songs reflect his dreams of a peaceful liberation from Assad’s brutal regime. Ossama is a 24-year-old media activist and pacifist who wields his camera to capture the revolution. When the army cracks down and their beloved city of Homs becomes a bombed-out ghost town, these two peaceful protesters finally take up arms and transform into rebel insurgents.
With no talking heads or title cards to give us context, Derki’s film is after something much more visceral. Like its heroes, we are pulled into the conflict with frenzied immediacy as we experience one city, the dreaded rites of passage of two friends, and ultimately an entire nation torn apart by the fog of war. - D.C., Sundance Institute. Winner: World Cinema Grand Jury Prize - Documentary, at Sundance Film Festival
The Cinema Studies Program, the Jewish Studies Program, the Middle East Center, and the Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations Department at the University of Pennsylvania, in collaboration with the Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival and International House Philadelphia, present the 2013 edition of New Middle East Cinema. Recently released feature films, which represent a large number of countries in the region, have been selected as the best to be presented and discussed to further the understanding of current Middle Eastern societies and cultures through cinema.