Activists hold ‘Mobile Phone Film Festival’ inside war-ravaged Syria

The festival pays tribute to those who risked their lives filming reality in Syria using a mobile phone

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A group of Syrian filmmakers and activists is holding a three-day “phone film festival" inside Syria to honor those who risked their lives to capture with their phone cameras the horrors of the regime’s brutality against peaceful protesters and the country’s subsequent descent into full-scale civil war.

“Syria’s Mobile Phone Film Festival” pays “tribute to people who have filmed Syria’s most recent events equipped only with their phones and who shared their videos often risking their life,” reads the event’s website.

"Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait" - directed by Ossama Mohammed and Wiam Simav Bedirxan - is one of the major films being shown to wider public in Syria for the first time after it premiered in the Special Screenings section of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.

"The Immortal Sergeant" is another famous production which took part in the official selection of the Locarno International Film Festival to be screen for the first time in Syria. It was directed by Ziad Kalthoum, whom upon finishing his mandatory military service he was retained in the army with the outbreak of the civil war. After finishing his film in 2012 he left Syria and reportedly settled in Lebanon.

This is in addition to a series of short films, also shot using cell phones, in several troubled Syrian areas such as Aleppo, Daraa and Atareb.

Syrian mobile film festival
Syrian mobile film festival

The film festival kicked off Oct. 15 in five Syrian towns in Syria: Kafranbel, Aleppo, Atareb, Jabal al-Zawiya and Deraa , according to organizers who said they plan to screen the films later this year in London, Berlin, and Brussels.

Organizers had planned to organize a separate screening in the northern Kurdish town of Kobane, but the event was canceled after militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) advanced towards it, and the anti-ISIS coalition began striking them, which further downgraded the city’s security conditions.

“Since the beginning, the mobile phone helped shape the visual identity of the Syrian revolution,” Zaher Omareen, one of the festival organizers, told The WorldPost.

“This festival is about Syria, inside and out… From Syrian to Syrian, to make Syrians more involved and to help them think differently. The phone is not just a tool to record the news and events,” he added.

Three awards, each valued at $1,000 will be granted to winners of the “One-Minute Film,” the “Short Documentary Film” and the “Long Documentary Film.”

A number of organizations civil institutions such as Baytna, MENApolis and the Alsharee Foundation for Information and Development, have funded and supported the event.

Films screened at the festival can be viewed on its website.

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