Syria, Past And Present

There are far too many film festivals in Toronto right now. Reel Asian and Rendezvous With Madness are wrapping up this weekend, the EKRAN Toronto Polish Film Festival is underway right now and the European Union Film Festival starts up in a matter of hours.

With all of that competition, what chance does the Syrian Film Festival have to draw your attention when it opens tonight (Friday, November 13) at Jackman Hall? Maybe not much, unless you’re already interested in the subject matter. In which case, it’s all right here, Friday through Sunday at 7:30 pm.

The Syrian Film Festival focuses on the current state of the nation, which this year means a lot of documentaries, both short and feature-length, about the refugee crisis. Friday’s program pairs the short doc Growing Home with Yasmin Fedda’s Queens Of Syria, a longer piece about a troupe of Syrian women performing an adaptation of Euripides’s play The Trojan Women in Jordan.

The centrepiece of Saturday’s program is 50 Feet From Syria, Skye Fitzgerald’s documentary about Syrian-American surgeon Hisham Bismar, who treats refugees on the Turkish border. Both Fitzgerald and Bismar will participate in a Q&A after the screening.

And Sunday’s program pairs Anders Gatten’s short documentary Diaspora with Carol Mansour’s Not Who We Are, a 2013 documentary which follows five Syrian women living as refugees in Lebanon.

The message of the festival is pretty clear: things are bad for the Syrian people, and they’re not getting better anytime soon. Help if you can – and if you can’t help, at least you can understand what’s happening.

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