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Erenlai Asia-Pacific Magazine

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This was an interview with A Tale of Two Syrias Director, Yasmin Fedda in Erenlai Asia-Pacific Magazine.

The Taiwan International Ethnographic Film Festival is a biannual festival, organized by the Taiwan Association of Visual Ethnography and held in Taipei. I was very glad to attend this year’s festival, and over the five-day event I saw many interesting and inspiring films. One that immediately stood out for me was the documentary A Tale of Two Syrias. I studied Arabic in Damascus, and later returned there for work, so for me the film had a very personal appeal. Nevertheless, A Tale of Two Syrias makes interesting viewing for anyone who wants to know more about the region.

The film switches between two locations and two people. In Damascus, we follow the story of Salem, an Iraqi fashion designer who fled from Baghdad during the Iraq war and hopes to seek asylum in America. In Mar Musa, a remote hillside monastery in the Syrian countryside, we follow Botrus, a Syrian monk. The film weaves between these two stories to paint an intimate portrait of a country that despite the recent media coverage, most people know very little about. By capturing the difficulties faced by ordinary Syrians in Bashar al-Assad’s Syria and also their vision of a better, freer life in the future, in some ways the film pre-empts the current conflict. However, through the beauty of Mar Musa and its inhabitants’ belief in inter-religious dialogue and mutual respect and tolerance, it also shows a vision of what that future Syria could be like.

I caught up with the director, Yasmin Fedda, whom I first met in Syria during my time there, and this is what she had to say:

Read the full interview on the Erenlai Asia-Pacific Magazine site.