|Vittorio De Sica
|There Are Many Things One Can Talk About...
|Life Is Beautiful
|Kleber Mendonça Filho, Juliano Dornelles
|Dune Part One
|Akira Kurosawa's Dreams
|Where Is the Friend's House?
It's one of the greatest films of all time. I can never forget the moment when the father and the son are sitting at the end of the film, by the street in a city ravaged by war. Both defeated, but the son like the father trying to act as if he didn't see the father's humiliation.
The simple story of needing a bicycle, a simple object to survive and to try to act normally in a post-war situation is something that deeply influenced my films. Looking back at it now in The Day I Lost My Shadow it's the mum who needs a cylinder of gas to cook for her son but can't find one. And in Nezouh, it's the father trying to hold on to a destroyed house.
A celebration of cinema, life and childhood.
There Are Many Things One Can Talk About...
Omar Amiralay is one of the masters of documentary. I was 19 when I watched this film, and I couldn't believe that there was a film as aesthetically powerful coming from my own country. I couldn't believe I could finally see my own city in a film with a strong message against the regime. This film, like most of Omar's films, was banned in Syria, and we were watching it in secret conditions as students of theatre. I remember we decided after watching it to go back home and not to go other classes, as nothing would be as powerful as watching Saadalah Wanoos (a reverent Syrian playwright) suffering from cancer while talking about the Palestinian cause, and a dying city suffering from a cancerous regime.
Dune Part One
It's a recent movie but it's a masterpiece in every aspect. I never saw an experience of the desert in cinema as powerful. All the elements, from sound, to music, image and choreography, VFX, costumes, make it an unforgettable experience. I like the subtle mix of the orient and science fiction. I like how this other planet, the galaxy universe, just looks realistic. I love it when non-realistic fantasy elements are presented in the most subtly realistic way.
Even if they are 10 films made for TV, I always considered the Dekalog one of the best cinematic works. Its ten hour-long films, drawing from the Ten Commandments, rich with irony, are set in a housing complex in late-communist era Poland.
I maybe be also felt connected as a Syrian, as it reminds me of the communist housing complex in Damascus, where we often as Syrians use black humour and irony to criticize the regime.
Akira Kurosawa's Dreams
This magical-realist film of eight vignettes is a feast for the eyes. Inspired by the director’s own nighttime visions, along with stories from Japanese folklore, it's a visually sumptuous journey through Akira’s imagination. A young boy stumbles on a fox wedding in a forest; a soldier confronts the ghosts of the war dead; a power plant meltdown smothers a seaside landscape in radioactive fumes.
Dreams was the first film written solely by Kurosawa and constitutes a recounting of the director’s memories, nightmares, dreams and fears, told through a cinematic lens.
Magic realism, coming of age, ghosts of war: it's something still part of my journey as a filmmaker who has experienced war's trauma. It's no wonder this film stayed with me ever since I watched it in Syria before the war; Syria under the Assad regime was a country boiling with horrors, but retaining a stable and peaceful surface.
What I loved was that it felt completely different to the previous films of Akira, those centred on samurai combat. It's as if he tried in his last films to present a different vision of the world he lived in, and to return to his childhood.
Where Is the Friend's House?
I've always been a fan of stories which are simple on the surface but rich and deep in content. This simple story of a schoolboy trying to return his friend's notebook and lost in a wide landscape, trying to protect his friend from an authoritarian, rigid school system, is something that will always affect me as a Syrian and as a filmmaker.