Italian film highlights Syrian artists’ experiences of war

2Italian film days

A still from Italian documentary ‘Torn’ (‘Strappati’) (Photo courtesy of Italian embassy/Fabio Lovino)

AMMAN — The documentary “Torn”, in which Syrian artists displaced in Jordan and Lebanon discuss their experiences of conflict, aims to “show art in the time of war”, according to its Italian producer, Alessandro Gassman.

The film, co-produced by UNHCR, was screened on Thursday at the conclusion of this year’s edition of Italian Film Days, hosted by the Royal Film Commission and the Italian embassy in Jordan.

In the documentary, Gassman, who is also an actor and a UNHCR goodwill ambassador, talks to Syrian musicians, actors, directors, artists and poets about their lives in the aftermath of the civil war.

Rasha Deeb, one of the artists featured in the film, said the trauma of war directly affected her creative output.

“Art in Syria and art after the war is different,” she said. “The subjects of my work and the colours that I use have completely changed.”

Upon their arrival at Zaatari Refugee Camp, some of the artists involved in the documentary started organising workshops to teach young children photography, dance, music and painting.

“We want to create a new Syria, full of culture and art,” one of them said.

At a discussion with the audience after the screening, UNHCR Representative to Jordan Andrew Harper underlined the importance of presenting a human view of the refugee crisis.

“The documentary is particularly timely now, when there’s almost an attempt to demonise the Syrians and others who are fleeing and are in search of protection. It shows a positive view of refugees when positive descriptions about them are often hard to come by,” Harper told The Jordan Times.

“It shows Syrians as people rather than refugees. It shows Syrians as proud, resilient, brilliant people who just want to move forward,” he said.

According to Harper, the main reason the documentary follows Syrian artists is that artists are in the best position to be their communities’ spokespeople.

“It’s the poets, the artists, the painters and the sculptors who often represent their society. People can relate much more to people who are able to express themselves,” he said. “Torn”, in Italian and Arabic with English subtitles, was filmed in 2015 in Jordan and Lebanon.

The documentary was presented at the Venice International Film Festival and at the MedFilm Festival in Rome.

It was the final movie shown at Amman’s Rainbow Theatre during Italian Film Days, which took place between November 30 and December 3 and covered a variety of genres.

Marco Marzeddu, second secretary at the Italian embassy, told The Jordan Times that the festival is an initiative to showcase and promote some of the most prominent Italian films recently released.

“We wanted to showcase different types of movies by modern directors. We believe that young Italian directors have a lot to say, mostly about current affairs and modern society.” 

This piece was published in The Jordan Times.

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