Film chronicles retelling of Troy tragedy to reflect plight of Syrian women

queens

Syrian women rehearse for a production of ‘Women of Troy’ in Jordan in late 2013 (Photo courtesy of http://www.queensofsyria.com)

AMMAN — The phrase “history repeats itself” strikes a chord with the “Queens of Syria”, 50 Syrian women who created and performed their own version of the ancient Greek play “The Trojan Women”.

Whether they are queens, princesses or ordinary women, all characters in the play are uprooted, enslaved and bereaved by the Trojan War that occurred hundreds of years ago. 

Today, as an aftermath of a different war, Syrian women lead lives that mirror those of Trojan women.

“Queens of Syria”, a documentary shot in Jordan by Yasmin Fedda, follows the Syrian women’s journey in exile in Jordan as they prepare for the performance of the Greek tragedy that showcases the plight of women in war. 

The Royal Film Commission (RFC) screened the feature at the Rainbow Theatre on Monday in the presence of the cast and producer Georgie Paget, who said she wanted to give these women a chance to tell people “the stories and experiences that they have lived through in war”.

“When we hear news about Syria we mostly hear opinions and voices of men, be they politicians, militants or officials,” Paget said.

“You rarely hear the stories of women and ordinary people who usually don’t get involved in politics but who are completely affected by it.”

The audience is taken on a journey through the daily lives of the women, their families and their homes. On screen, they relay their tragic past experiences while trying to cope with their present.  

“I feel that through watching the film the audience will be able to get to know some of these people a bit more instead of them being just statistics. We wanted to portray the people behind these statistics and numbers,” Paget said. 

“These women are such amazing and inspiring characters,” she added. “What is really inspiring is that even though they’ve been in very grim experiences, they coped with it; they have such amazing perseverance and such an amazing ability to love and have fun.”

The film, which had its world premiere at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival in 2014, also recorded the rehearsals and preparation of the play, which took place during the months of November and December in 2013.

The film won the Black Pearl Award for Best Director from the Arab World at the festival and received a Special Mention from the UNHCR at the Human Rights Film Festival in Tunisia, the RFC said.

According to the producer, the aim of re-enacting the play was for the women to express themselves and talk about what they have witnessed and survived at war. 

The rehearsals, led by Syrian director Omar Abu Saada, also enabled them to let go of the past and communicate their thoughts, hopes and dreams.

“Abu Saada worked with the women to incorporate their real-life stories into the play, so where in the play the chorus would talk about their homes in Troy, here you have them talk about Damascus or Aleppo or Daraa,” Paget said. 

This piece was published in The Jordan Times

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