Emergency Cinema from Syria got a Prize in Venice

The Jury of the 56th International Venice Biennial has also decided to assign a special mention to the Abounaddara collective from Syria who are showing their videos at the Exhibition All the World’s Futures by curated by Okwui Enwezor.

The Syrian film collective Abounaddara (meaning “man with glasses” in Arabic) is an anonymous group of self-taught filmmakers.  Since the onset of the Syrian revolution in 2011, Abounaddara has been creating and posting very short documentary videos, what they term “bullet films,” on Vimeo every Friday. The group calls their work “emergency cinema” to emphasize the ongoing political and humanitarian crisis in Syria.  Abounaddara is driven by a critical sense of urgency to show the global implications of the Syrian War and the commitment to creating an alternative to sensationalistic national and international media coverage.

They employ an aesthetic of do-it-yourself and disorientation, self-producing their films and distributing them online to avoid political censorship and the formatting dictates of the media and entertainment industries. Since its founding in 2010, Abounaddara has released a series of short documentaries celebrating the daily life of ordinary Syrians.

Charif Kiwan, the Collective’s spokesperson, said that the group is committed to making a short film every week as a contribution to the revolution. “But we didn’t film our revolution in the way that you might see it on YouTube through unbearable chaotic images. Rather we sought to understand it through the stories of individuals who are on the other side of the news. For us it is a question of making an immediate cinema without succumbing to the tyranny of the news, of making a political cinema without succumbing to facile denunciation.”

To see all their videos, check out the group’s site here or their Vimeo channel here.

Thomas Büsch

Filmmaker, Founding Member and Secretary General of diyalog, promotion of cultural exchange with Turkey. Since 2012 he is also project manager of InEnArt.

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