×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Cannes: Syrian Director Talks ‘Silvered Water,’ Filming Revolution on Cell Phones

Harvey Weinstein is talking about making a docu depicting Syrian refugee camps, but Ossama Mohammed, an outspoken critic of Bashar al-Assad’s regime, has already made one about Syrian atrocities, “Silvered Water, Syria Self Portrait,” in which the horror is told directly by 1001 Syrian men and women documenting it daily with their cell phones.

“Silver Water” screened at Cannes out-of-competition, the only Arab film in the fest’s official selection.

“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.”

But, interestingly, the images he used also come from members of Assad’s military forces. In a clear sign of internal rebellion against the regime, 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, but rather try to describe everything that is going on from the inside.” And 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 lensers “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 were intersecting, 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 film. 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 has been able to get out of Homs and come to Cannes, where the two co-directors met for the first time for the pic’s world preem.

More Film

  • Gwyneth Paltrow Variety Cover Story

    Gwyneth Paltrow Talks About Her Biggest Fights With Harvey Weinstein

    In this week’s Variety cover story, Gwyneth Paltrow looks back on the 20th anniversary of winning the best actress Oscar for “Shakespeare in Love.” The movie still holds up today, although there’s an ominous figure lurking in the credits. The romantic comedy was produced by Harvey Weinstein, and Paltrow spoke about working for the volcanic [...]

  • Jason Hoch to Lead Imperative Entertainment's

    Jason Hoch to Lead Imperative Entertainment's New Podcast Division (EXCLUSIVE)

    Entertainment studio Imperative Entertainment has hired producer Jason Hoch to lead its newly formed podcast division, Variety has learned. The new division will create and produce podcasts based on both original ideas and third-party IP, in addition to exploring opportunities within the company’s existing slate of feature and TV projects. Hoch has over 20 years [...]

  • Gwyneth Paltrow 'Avengers: Infinity War' film

    Gwyneth Paltrow to Exit Marvel Cinematic Universe

    For the last decade, Gwyneth Paltrow has popped up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Pepper Potts, Iron Man’s secretary and eventual girlfriend. But in an interview with Variety, the actress said that she’s planning on retiring the character after this summer’s “Avengers: Endgame.” “I mean, I’m a bit old to be in a suit [...]

  • Oscars Predictions Final

    Final Oscar Predictions: Who Will Win, and Who Should?

    At 5 p.m. Tuesday on the west coast it’ll be pencils down for Oscar voters, so to speak. Or maybe in an era of online voting, it’s more like laptops closed. Either way, polling for the 91st annual Academy Awards officially concludes in a few short hours. Five days from now, we’ll find out which [...]

  • Modern Films Picks Up Oscar-Nominated 'Never

    Modern Films Picks Up Oscar-Nominated 'Never Look Away' for U.K.

    Modern Films has snagged U.K. and Ireland rights to “Never Look Away,” the German-language Oscar entry from “The Lives of Others” helmer Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. The multi-generational story follows a young art student (Tom Schilling), who falls in love with a fellow student (Paula Beer). Her father (Sebastian Koch), a renowned doctor, disapproves of [...]

  • Gwyneth Paltrow Variety Cover Story

    Gwyneth Paltrow on How 'Shakespeare in Love' Changed Her Life (and the Oscars) Forever

    Gwyneth Paltrow never felt the same after making “Shakespeare in Love.” The movie that earned her the best actress Oscar 20 years ago transformed her into a global star. “It just changed my life,” Paltrow says on a recent afternoon in Los Angeles, reflecting on the impact of the 1998 romantic comedy that grossed nearly [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content