Return to Homs

Talal Derki, Syria / Germany, 2013, color, DCP, 87'

Filmed between August 2011 and August 2013, this is a remarkably intimate portrait of a group of young revolutionaries in the city of Homs in western Syria. They dream of their country being free from President Bashar al-Assad and fight for justice through peaceful demonstrations. As the army acts ever more brutally and their city is transformed into a ghost town, the young men become armed insurgents. The protagonists are two friends: Basset, the charismatic 19-year-old goalkeeper of the national soccer team whose revolutionary songs make him the voice of the protest movement, and the 24-year-old media activist and cameraman Ossama. The close-up camerawork takes the viewer right into the group. Scenes of lively protest parties make way for panicking civilians on the run, followed by grim battles in a deserted city, and rising numbers of fallen loved ones. Basset's a cappella protest songs are the only soundtrack, apart from the "silence, interrupted only by birds and bullets." From time to time, the director makes a comment in voice-over: “The world is watching how we are getting killed one by one, while it remains silent as the grave.”

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