Art in Exile will explore the challenges and potential for artistic expression during times of tyranny, war, and exile. From an Iraqi fashion designer seeking refuge in Syria, to an actor facing forced conscription in Syria, to filmmakers working under the Assad regime, and finally to several Palestinian artists from Syria who have found themselves twice displaced, this short festival follows the journey of several artists pre and post-2011 uprising. Film screenings will be followed by panel discussions on the themes in the films and an art exhibit featuring artists originally from Yarmouk Camp in Damascus, Syria now living everywhere from Beirut to Gotland, Sweden. This exhibit aims to highlight the artists’ creative and physical exile, the war, and the importance of the addressing the refugee crisis in the region, Europe and the United States. All events will take place at the Goethe-Institut in Washington DC. All proceeds will be contributed to Syria Relief and Development.
Oct 13: 6:30pm-10:00pm Film screening/panel discussion/exhibit opening.
Film Screening - Chebabs de Yarmouk (2011): Elegantly alternating between moments of intense conversation and poetic monologue, this film paints a portrait of a tight-knit group of third-generation Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk camp. It delves deep into their identities, in a place where citizenship is hard to find or define. With his observant camera in tow, Axel Salvatori-Sinz films these young people haunted by doubts about their future, caught between loyalty to their friends and a desire to take flight, sometimes leaving the others far behind. Theater actor Hassan Hassan, his fiancée Waed, and their friends Ala’a, Samer and Tasneem are the protagonists.
Today, the camp is under siege and in ruins. The Syrian military allows only minute amounts of aid into the camp. Hassan Hassan, the film’s main protagonist, was reported captured, tortured and killed by the Syrian regime, trying to leave the camp. In a statement to The Electronic Intifada, director Axel Salvatori-Sinz explained that “after the culmination of the film, all of the shebab fled Yarmouk except Hassan and Waed. ‘It was an act of resistance,’ the director said. ‘The camp was [Hassan’s] place and it was not possible for him to leave the camp behind him but the Syrian regime decided to eradicate Yarmouk camp, stopping the provision of food ... Hassan and Waed decided to try to escape.’ With exits of the camp blocked by Syrian forces, Hassan attempted a bribe but was arrested. Late last year, Hassan’s family was notified of his death inside prison…Shebabs of Yarmouk now acts as a solemn celebration of Hassan Hassan, who never wavered in his commitment to Yarmouk as a place of livelihood, creative opportunity and beauty. He longed for a homeland, but resolved that, ‘Palestine is the camp, and the camp is a piece of Palestine,’ and so he strove to create an ideal within it.’”
The film has been received at nearly 30 festivals in Europe, as well as several in Canada. It has also been screened in Jerusalem, Amman, Turkey, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Gaza, Hebron, Dubai, Tunis, and Morocco.
Discussion Panel: hosted by Honey al Sayed and featuring characters of the film and Nidal Bitari former resident and journalist of Yarmouk Camp.
Oct 14: 6:30pm-10:00pm Film screening/panel discussion/exhibit opening.
Film Screening - A Tale of Two Syrias (2011): Salem is an Iraqi fashion designer in Damascus. Botrus lives a remote existence in a hillside monastery. This consistently insightful and unexpected documentary offers a unique perspective on what the dream of freedom means to two very different people in the face of a brutal regime, creating a vital snapshot of life in the year before Syria’s uprising. The film ends as the uprising begins; following the uncertain futures of the protagonists.
A Tale of Two Syrias has been screened at international festivals including Glasgow Film Festival & Birds Eye View Film Festival. It was also screened in New York City at universities and Alwan for the Arts.
Panel: hosted by Honey al Sayed and featuring the filmmaker Yasmin Fedda and protagonist of the film, Salem.