The War Show

The War

Director Andreas Dalsgaard, Obaidah Zytoon

Screenplay Andreas Dalsgaard, Obaidah Zytoon

With Amal, Houssam, Lulu, Hisham, Rabea, Argha

Cinematography Obaidah Zytoon, Dana Bakdounes, Amr Kheito, Hisham Issa, Wassim Anonymous, Lars Skree

Joining the 2011 street protests against the oppressive Assad regime, Syrian radio host Obaidah Zytoon armed herself with a video camera, determined to propel the Arab Spring forward. The regime’s violent reprisals that followed the uprising continue to shock the world and have dispersed refugees to all corners, but this painfully poignant film, so much more than a collection of distant and disturbing images of war, personalises its dispatches from the Syrian frontline with an intimacy and lucidity that cuts right through the banality of evil.

 Assembling Zytoon’s footage, co-director Andreas Dalsgaard (The Human Scale) threads in the simple dreams and fragile hope of individuals – including many of Zytoon’s best friends and fellow activists – together with the complicated role video plays in the conflict, on both sides of the equation, in a way that recalls the personal and moral enquiry of last year’s superb Cameraperson. 

As Zytoon’s poetic narration concedes, “There was a place for everybody in the war show, except the people.” Bravely carried out of the warzone, her documentary movingly restores some of the names, faces and identities obscured by the everyday spectacle of terrorism and extremism. — Tim Wong