Silvered Water, Syria Self Portrait: Syrian Atrocities Documented by Ossama Mohammed

Ossama Mohammed, a critic of Bashar al-Assad’s regime, has made a most interesting and timely feature about Syrian atrocities, Silvered Water, Syria Self Portrait, in which the horror is told directly by 1001 Syrian men and women documenting it with their cell phones.

“For all the people, demonstrating against Assad was an explosion of cinema. People screaming ‘Freedom! Freedom!’ and filming for the first time,” Mohammed said. “It was a revolution of cinema, of images, of expression.”

Some of the images used also come from members of Assad’s military forces.  The shocking torture scenes at the start of the film were shot “either by a soldier or a secret service officer,” Mohammed said.

For Mohammed one of the challenges was “to make it non-political, try to describe everything that is going on from the inside.”  One of the biggest tragedies “are the soldiers, because every one of them is very possibly a slave, or a martyr if he does not obey,” he says.

Another challenge was putting all the photograpers “on the same level as myself and co-director Wiam Simav Bedirxan. We are equal. But they were filming in the area where death and life happened, while I was in exile in Paris.”

Wiam Simav Bedrixan is a young Kurdish woman in the besieged city Homs who contacted Mohammed for advice on what to shoot. Her powerful footage includes images of the small children she teaches. “She is a real co-author in the film,” Mohammed said. “It’s only because of her that I could make this film.”

Simav Berdrixan was able to get out of Homs and come to Cannes, where the two co-directors met for the first time for the world premiere of the movie.