Syrian Film Collective Offers View of Life Behind a Conflict

 Charif Kiwan, Abounaddara’s spokesman and its only active named member, watching the group’s film “The Old Man and Jihad.” Credit Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Charif Kiwan, Abounaddara’s spokesman and its only active named member, watching the group’s film “The Old Man and Jihad.” Credit Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

For months the eyes of the world have been focused on the plight of Syrian refugees, following families as they make harrowing treks across borders. Meanwhile, Abounaddara, a celebrated Syrian film collective, has been trailing a hotshot local soccer team.

In 11 short videos posted online, Abounaddara, an anonymous group of self-taught and provocative filmmakers, shared interviews with players on a national squad. “In the team, there are opponents and supporters of the regime,” one says. “If you’re with the opposition, it’s best not to talk. But I can’t. I’d suffocate.” Each video begins with a shot of the teammates kicking around the ball, and then a group chant: “Free Syria!”

The videos, titled “The Team,” are part of Abounaddara’s unique oeuvre: brief weekly dispatches from Syrian life, in all its hues and complications. The idea is to present an alternative to mainstream coverage of the country’s fractured state, with its focus on conflict and destruction. “Our first enemy is pity,” Charif Kiwan, the group’s spokesman and only active named member, said in an interview at the New School in Manhattan. “Since the beginning, we tried to say that we are fighting for freedom, for dignity.”

Read more here. (Original in New York Times.)

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