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Bidayyat [Beginnings] in Syrian Revolutionary Non-fiction

Bidayyat is a Beirut-based Syrian production hub founded in the early days of the Syrian revolution. It was established with the intention of training young people in a tradition of Syrian and regional experimental documentary so as to tell the stories of ordinary lives in Syria during a time of revolution and war. Bidayyat has mentored dozens of young media activists, filmmakers and writers, helping them produce over 50 shorts, eight internationally-acclaimed feature documentaries and over 100 online publications. 

As Bidayyat now shifts its perspective from revolutionary production hub to revolutionary archive, Focus: Bidayyat [Beginnings] in Revolutionary Syria spotlights innovative and award-winning films produced by, or in conversation with Bidayyat. 

These creative documentaries pioneered new cinematic languages, which responded to the rapid proliferation of affordable digital cameras and cell phone video used by Syrian citizens to document the reality and legitimacy of their revolt. They bear witness to the transformation of the lives of millions of Syrians by revolution and war. 

Bidayyat [Beginnings] in Syrian Revolutionary Nonfiction is a screening and conversation series presenting three revolutionary nonfiction Syrian feature films: Our Terrible Country; Still Recording; and In Fields of Words: Conversations with Samar Yazbek. Each screening will be followed by a moderated post-screening discussion with the filmmakers.

This series is co-presented by World Records and the Toronto Arab Film Festival.

Series runs November 22 - 24

Wednesday, November 22, 6:45 PM

a man in a striped shirt walking by half demolished buildings

Our Terrible Country (Baladna alraheeb)

Two dissidents embark on a perilous journey from Damascus to Raqqa, and then into exile in Turkey, as Syria tumbles into the abyss.

In Arabic with English subtitles.

Co-director Mohammad Ali Atassi will participate in a post-screening Q&A.

  • D: Mohammad Ali Atassi & Ziad Homsi
  • Syria
  • 2014
  • 85 min
More details

Thursday, November 23, 6:45 PM

a man filming a street of half demolished buildings

Still Recording

Two art students living a carefree life in Damascus decide to join the Syrian revolution by moving to Douma, a working-class suburb under rebel rule.

In Arabic and English with English subtitles.

Co-director Saeed al-Batal will participate in a post-screening Q&A.

  • D: Saeed al-Batal & Ghiath Ayoub
  • Syria, Lebanon, Qatar & Germany
  • 2018
  • 120 min
More details

Friday, November 24, 6:45 PM

a hand holding up a film negative

In Fields of Words: Conversations with Samar Yazbek (l-Sahel al-Mumtani')

A film-conversation between a writer and filmmaker questioning the relations between language and cinema as tools to represent war and violence.

In Arabic with English subtitles.

Co-director Rania Stephan will participate in a post-screening Q&A.

  • D: Rania Stephan
  • Lebanon
  • 2022
  • 68 min
More details

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