“Although we liked the idea of the two protagonists, there was no dramatic arc at first” says producer Orwa Nyrabia. By late summer of 2011, the early, heady days of the pro-democracy protests were sliding into full-scale violence as Syrian army forces entered Homs and fighting broke out. “We never expected that, a few months into shooting, Basset would become a militia fighter and that Osama would be detained,” says Nyrabia.
Before the revolution, I was practicing my trade, which I learned years ago before the revolution. I studied filmmaking and directing in Greece. I started thinking of filming something for Syria. Orwa and I had that dream since day one, and then the revolution started and we decided to pursue the dream, as risky as it may be. It was all a challenge, going to Homs was a challenge, but we made it happen as a team.
As commissioning editor for ZDF/ARTE, and Deputy Programme Director for ARTE, Hans Robert’s more than 50 theatrical length commissions for TV and Cinema include Oscar winners. Hans Robert has been director of the Berlin Film Fund and helped to create the European Film Academy. After his retirement from ZDF/ARTE Hans Robert runs a film-and TV-production company in Berlin Ventana-Film GmbH, focused on international documentaries.
Orwa Nyrabia graduated from the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts in Damascus. He worked as Assistant Director in high-profile fiction films. Since he co-founded PROACTION FILM, Orwa has worked on a number of documentary and fiction films. As a filmmaker, Orwa has made one short documentary, co-directed a fiction short and finished his feature-length doc “Queen of Hearts”. Orwa is a co-founder of DOX BOX International Documentary Film Festival in Syria.
Kahtan started working as cameraman only by the beginning of the revolution, he used to work in printing services before 2011. He was one of the remarkable activists of his neighborhoos, the films location, Al Khalidiya, and a close friend of Basset. Since mid-2012, Derki and Nyrabia could not go to Homs anymore, and he became the films main cameraman, doing great work of courage and talent, and leaving an unforgettable document from the actual front-line.
Nyrabia and Al Homsi shot the first part of the film. Nyrabia then fled Syria after being detained and released by security forces in September 2012. Al Homsi disappeared around the same time after being picked up along the Syrian-Lebanese border. “The whereabouts of Ossama are still unknown,” says Nyrabia. “We don’t know whether he is alive. He was against arming the revolution, but in the eyes of the regime an activist holding a camera is worse than one holding a weapon.”
Syrian filmmaker and producer, and co-founder of Proaction Film and DOX BOX. Her previous work included Dolls, A Woman From Damascus (2008, IDFA), which was screened in more than 40 countries internationally and sold to broadcasters around the world. In 2011, El Jeiroudi initiated the project Baladi, inviting Syrian filmmakers to make films despite all that was happening and maximising the measures of safety for them, was the original umbrella under which Return To Homs started.