The Film in the words of Director Talal Derki
The movie is about the Syrian citizen who challenged everything and everyone to demand freedom. It’s a movie about war and the pressure of being in a battlefield.
When I got to Homs and met Abdul Basset al-Saroot, I was inspired immediately. I knew it: he was the personality that I had been looking for, a courageous 19-year-old man, full of character and charisma. He could bring the people closer to him in a second, and everyone loved him and appreciated his energy.
Abdul Basset always uses his emotions. He used to do so in soccer... he became a famous goalkeeper... and he did the same in the revolution. In the first protests in Homs, Saroot climbed the other guys’ shoulders, took his shirt off, and started chanting, “Hey hey sniper, here’s my neck and my head.” His message: I am Abdul Basset al-Saroot, I don’t hide my face, I use my full name, and I am here and against the Syrian regime.
What started as peaceful protests in Syria soon evolved into siege in Homs, into the battles and violence around the country, where snipers shot citizens and the regime shelled places killing innocent souls. That’s when Saroot started carrying weapons.
The character of Ossama in the movie represents the eyes of the viewer. Ossama’s camera represents the fictional presence of the viewer in Homs. I wanted to highlight his role as a videographer. We focused on Saroot and Osama’s characters.
The filming was continuous: even when Saroot and his group were stuck they were being filmed using zoom lenses, a process that lasted for 15 days until they managed to dig a tunnel and return to Khalidiyyeh. So the scenes in the movie shocked many people – the shelling, the death of a fighter who was alive few seconds ago.
The crisis changed each and every one of us. The challenges changed us, but mostly it was death. Death left its mark in every one of us: we all changed because of the increasing violence, the loss of people close to us, the injustice, the fragmentation. However, Abdul Basset was strong and very solid; he was and still is persistent.