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In Syria, everyday, YouTubers film then die; others kill then film. In Paris, driven by my inexhaustible love for Syria, I find that I can only film the sky and edit the footage posted. From within the tension between my estrangement in France and the revolution, an encounter happened. A young Kurdish woman from Homs began to chat with me, asking: 'If your camera were here, in Homs, what would you be filming?'. Silvered Water is the story of that encounter.Written by
A powerfully, grisly but very messy documentary that puts the weight of the world on your shoulders.
The winner of the Best Documentary award at the London Film Festival this year, Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait is a document of the Syrian uprising as told via found footage from YouTube. It's a conceit borrowed from 102 Minutes That Changed America, a real-time account of 9/11 from amateur footage, but here its unafraid to show the gruesome brutality. The pixelated clips can be utterly stomach churning, shooting right in the middle of the conflict, switching between torture and battlegrounds. If The Act Of Killing had a camera during the slaughters, it would've looked and felt like this. The way they approach the editing with its abrasive music creates an unsettling atmosphere regardless of the content. It offers no history lessons, just the raw visceral destruction and anarchy. But even amongst the horrors of war, the film spares a thought for cinema, evidently the director's primary port of call. It's difficult to see art like that as anything but trivial in the face of chaos but they make a decent point about the camera being a good weapon with the exposure the Syrian uprising has had in the media.
It makes you think about the impact technology and social media has had, especially as we sit here on facebook while this is happening. It constantly reminds you about facebook, leaving in the sounds of notifications and text messages. It's deliberately jarring and gut wrenching for it. That's when the narrative switches to the communication and friendship between the co- directors whilst Ossama Mohammed has escaped and Wiam Bedirxan remains in Syria. She watches the world burn while he revels in guilt. It begins a call and response structure of Hiroshima Mon Amour where Syria is their equivalent to post-WWII Hiroshima. The film significantly improves on that change of focus as he tries to argue that life has meaning. He begins analysing the images he receives as if they're intentional and artistic, perhaps almost as a defensive mechanism. Unfortunately the film is very messy in its construction with loose chapters and inter-titles that have no clear intentions. Perhaps this is the best Mohammed could do under the circumstances. If it's abstract art then it doesn't really work. It's far too in your face, but with no apologies.Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait captures the utter hopelessness of what's going on in the world today, with a touch of a slim hope that cinema can help. It's certainly a powerful doc that puts the world on your shoulders.
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