Love and war

“Love and War” is the title of the documentary film, which has been recently shown at the Cultural Center in Tartous. The film prepared and directed by William Abdullah.

They destroyed iron and grew jasmine…..

The film deals with three stories of Syrian soldiers who loved girls from the regions they participated in liberating them from terrorist gangs. They challenged all the social, financial, religious and political conditions for this love. They smashed the iron and planted jasmine in a land ravaged by shells and blood and firmed up their love with marriage.

To talk about the idea of making the movie and the circumstances in which it was filmed, Mr. Abdulla said to the Syria Times e-newspaper: “making the film was not a result of a long thinking or even a pre-planning act but what happened was that I was actually preparing for a feature film in the coastal area when I heard about some stories that took place in hot areas, stories of love and marriage between soldiers of the Syrian Arab Army and girls from these hot spots. Frankly, the stories fascinated me and what drew my attention is that these stories occurred at the height of the intensification of the battles and the fierce media offensive that falsely depicts the situation in Syria”.

Mr. Abdullah continued: “I started immediately, without thinking about the consequences of this work, to prepare for making the film so I searched for the places where it happened to look for the real characters and meet them to document what has been done with them.

I entered a number of hot spots in Kalamoun area namely Deir Atiya and Yabroud with the help of a number of local residents. Before shooting the film I started documenting the area by publishing a daily report with photos then I met the real characters that later appeared in the film.

He went on to say: “starting the movie was hindered by the security circumstances of the region, most people were afraid of armed gangs. Some of the characters apologized for appearing in the film and others asked to change their names as it was happened with the heroine of one of the film's stories because of her fear for her brothers and her family from jabhat al-Nosra if they saw her on the screen. Others were happy because their tragic and heroic stories will be documented.

After I knew the details of the stories I have set out the casting plans. The people of the region helped me with this step and thanks to the safety they gave me, we were able to start filming. It did not take a long time for the gunmen to feel us trying to stop our work by force. They began a campaign of threat to stop the film immediately this is what made some people keep away from me, so I stayed alone with only one person to shoot the film.

In response to whether these threats could make him stop work, Mr. Abdulla stressed: “The film went through difficult stages that posed a threat to my life and the lives of those who were with me. The flow of threats was enough to give up idea of filming so we decided to stop because the security situation is also no longer in our favor, especially after the departure of the people who were with me at the beginning of casting.

The day I decided to return to Damascus, one of those who I had documented their stories looked at me with a sad smile on his lips and said: " You were the hope for us, we will not abandon you, do not leave us." This phrase was enough for me to follow the movie even if I would die in that area. Thus, despite all warnings and threats to stop casting and to leave the place immediately, I told them that I would complete what I have started and would not stop until I do the whole job stressing I know how to protect myself and those who are with me well. So, we continued our work with modest possibilities and very difficult circumstances, we do not have neither the needed equipment nor the enough time”.

Syria today as a country needs documentation

Mr. Abdulla continued :“Despite the critical security conditions and the lack of time, especially that the heroes of the film are soldiers on the fronts and they can come only one day a week, I continued to work insistently because I realized the importance of documenting the humanitarian stories in this cruel war. I decided to go on documenting this war and the soldiers' stories and their valor as well. I followed-up every detail therein and, being a soldier in the army, has made it easier for me”.

“I think that Syria now, as a country, needs to be documented more than any time ago because the war that took place there has distorted many aspects of its society and destroyed most of its ruins that indicates the legacy of its civilization. The document we are making now will be a reference for the forthcoming generations when they want to know about the greatness of their country and the courage and dignity of their parents who fought and martyred in order to defend the pride and sovereignty of Syria and to preserve the homeland for their children to live with dignity and pride.” Mr. Abdulla concluded.


Interviewed by Amal Farhat