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Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait is showcased as part of Ib’atli Gawab / Signed, Sealed, Delivered: On longing and political resistance through epistolary forms in four essay-films.

Please note that Silvered Water is available for US audiences only.

Register for the FULL Program HERE

Inspired by two love songs—Sabah Fakhri’s Ib’atli Gawab (Arabic for “send an answer my way”) and Stevie Wonder’s Signed, Sealed, Delivered— this program explores the affective and political potential of letter-writing and other epistolary forms through four films by Mona Benyamin, Emily Jacir, Ossama Mohammed & Wiam Siav Bedirxan, and Akram Zaatari. As odes to longing and the infinite wait for a lover’s response, Fakhri and Wonder’s songs are invoked to underline the subjective and situated perspectives of these films. 

Set around a Facebook chat, Silvered Water follows the transmission of knowledge and experience between two Syrians, with Mohammed exiled in Paris and attempting to teach Bedirxan how to film, while Bedirxan recounts the reality of living in Homs as the uprisings turn into an unbearably violent conflict/proxy war. In letter to a friend, Jacir addresses architect Eyal Weizman, recounting an embodied history of the urban fabric surrounding her family home Dar Jacir. Through absurd emails and a catchy soundtrack, Benyamin’s Moonscape tells the story of Dennis M. Hope’s claim of ownership over the Moon—a detour that allows Benyamin to question the impossibility for Palestinians to move freely. Zaatari’s Tomorrow Everything Will Be Alright telescopes the outdated format of the typewriter with the immediacy of chatting to evoke the trepidation that marks the waiting for an ex’s response.

In the face of distance and borders, these contemporary takes on the essay-film use letter-writing as a visual and conceptual strategy to build affinities and solidarities, creating ingenious strategies of political resistance.

Film Program:

Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait, Ossama Mohammed & Wiam Simav Bedirxan, France/Syria/United States/Lebanon, 2014,103 min

letter to a friend, Emily Jacir, 2019, Palestine, 43 min

Moonscape, Mona Benyamin, 2020, Palestine, 17 min

Tomorrow Everything Will Be Alright, Akram Zaatari, Lebanon/UK, 2011, 7 min

This program also includes a recorded discussion between filmmaker Mona Benyamin and curator Line Ajan in which they’ll explore Benyamin’s use of musical references in her film—including the late Sabah Fakhri— as well as humor as strategies of subversion and resistance.

Additional Resources:

Tea Is Coffee, Coffee Is Tea: Freedom in a Closed RoomA fascinating text by acclaimed Syrian filmmaker Ossama Mohammed bitingly describes the conditions of filmmaking under the Ba’athist regime in Syria

The 1999 text was first published in Insights into Syrian Cinema: Essays and conversations with contemporary filmmakers. Ed. Rasha Salti. New York: ArteEast : AIC Film Editions/Rattapallax Press, 2006. 149-163.

Ib’atli Gawab / Signed, Sealed, Delivered is curated by Line Ajan and presented as part of the ArteEast legacy program Unpacking the ArteArchive, preserving and presenting over 17 years of film and video programming by ArteEast.

Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait, dir. Ossama Mohammed & Wiam Simav Bedirxan

Warning: Graphic Content

Synopsis: In Syria, every day, YouTubers film then die; others kill then film. In Paris, driven by my inexhaustible love for Syria, I find that I can only film the sky and edit the footage posted. From within the tension between my estrangement in France and the revolution, an encounter happened. A young Kurdish woman from Homs began to chat with me, asking: 'If your camera were here, in Homs, what would you be filming?'. Silvered Water is the story of that encounter.

Bio: Ossama Mohammed is a Syrian film director and screenwriter. His film, The Box of Life, was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. He is currently living in exile in Paris, where he collaborated on Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait.

  • Year
  • Runtime
    94 minutes
  • Language
  • Country
    France, Syrian Arab Republic
  • Director
    Ossama Mohammed & Wiam Simav Bedirxan
  • Screenwriter
    Ousama Mohammed & Wiam Simav Bedirxan
  • Editor
    Dani Abouloh and Maisoun Asaad
  • Sound Design
    No'ma Omrane (Music)