5th STEPS International Short Film Festival Encourages Energetic Syrian Youths to Present Their Creative Cinematic Skills

"Cinema is a historical document and a living memory that can’t be put out. the Syrian cinema has played an important and distinguished role in documenting and archiving what has been taking place in Syria since the very beginning of the terrorist war against the country to keep these memories alive for future generations”, Majd Younes Ahmed, the director of the 5th STEPS International Short Films Festival ( SIFF) , who is also an actor and a theatre director said in a statement to the Syriatimes e- newspaper.

The four-day event was recently held by the Syrian Youth Council (SYC) in cooperation with the General Establishment for Cinema (GEC) under the patronage of the Culture  Ministry at” Dar Al-Assad for Culture” in Lattakia province.

Ahmed clarified that SIFF is an annual cultural event held in Lattakia governorate due to its deep-rooted civilization and rich cultural heritage. It sends the world a message from the Syrian youths that the Syrians, despite the fierce hostile schemes to undermine Syria’s culture, civilization, history and infrastructure, are able to overcome all difficulties and produce creative works.

 "Strategically, the festival aims at reactivating and supporting  the cultural and artistic movement in Syria as well as at the Arab and world level”, Ahmed said., pointing out that the SIFF offers a chance and a stage for youths to screen their films, exchange expertise and paved the way for them to take part in wider festivals.

44 films from 13 countries, including Syria, Iraq, Bahrain, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, India, France, Iran, Italy, United States and Canada took part in the festival, he made it clear, noting that the films dealt with humanitarian, social, cultural topics in addition to the Syrian crisis from the participants’ points of view .

In this respect, he referred to a film called "Amal" by Saudi Director Hani Alqatan that depicted the Syrian crisis, showed rejection to and warned against Islamic extremism.

Most of the participating Syrian films depicted the crisis in Syria, Ahmad said, stressing that Syrian youths are talented, creative  and ambitious and they have played effective role in defending their country through art.

On his part, Yasser Haider, an Administrative Supervisor at the Syrian Youth Council (SYC)in Lattakia, which is keen on enhancing the Syrian youths’ talents and skills, told the Syriatimes that  "the festival is a notable cultural activity that reactivates the cinema movement through bringing together participants from Syria and other Arab and foreign countries. It is of great  importance to pave the way for youths to present their  cinematic experiences and ideas".

He said the Syrian youths participating in the SIFF consider the festival as a weapon to confront the big challenges Syria has been facing, praising the Syrian youths’ awareness in dealing with the crisis.

Haider stressed this year's SIFF witnessed wider participation, appreciating highly the SYC teams’ efforts  in making the SIFF a success.

On her participation in the 5th SIFF, Syrian young director Zahra Al-Boudi said "step by step the SIFF will be a huge cultural event at the world level as it offers a platform for youths to express their talents and ideas in the field of cinema.

"The festival is a chance for us as artists and youths to document cinematically what happened in our country under the crisis to deal with the impacts of terrorism” Alboudi said, pointing out that the Syrian youths insist on shouldering their responsibilities in defending their country in the face of the unjust terrorist war and the embargo.

Regarding her participating film "Ahlam Saghira" (Little Dreams), which was produced by the General Establishment for Cinema and which got an appreciation certificate, Alboudi said “it tells the story of Karam, a boy in the 5th class, who lives in poor conditions and his utmost dream is to get new shoes, his dream was achieved but after he had lost his leg in a terrorist explosion in his school".

"The film is my message to the world that all the Syrians suffered a lot due to the crisis but they are keen on achieving their dreams even if  they are uncompleted," She stressed clarified.

Head of the Jury, actor Ayman Zeidan, told Syriatimes that the SIFF is "an artistic, cultural, social and human message. It is a project for the youths who are enthusiastic  to present their creativity and skills in cinema."

Zeidan stressed the SIFF is one of the most important festivals in Syria as it supports  and encourages youths' talents even under the current difficulties.

The 5th SIFF honored the writers Hanna Menah and Hassan M. Yousef, actor Ayman Zeidan and other artistic and cultural figures.

The festival announced the results of competitions on September 28th and they came as follows:

The festival award went to the Iranian Director Gulam Merza Jaafari for his film "The Dull White".

Lebanese Director Michael Asmar won the best directing award  for his film "Naseem" (Breeze), while the best Arab film award went to Egyptian director Alaauddin Asem's "Orange Tree" film.

The American Film "Head Above Water" for director Eric Shahinian won the jury award, while the Syrian films "Ahlam Saghira" (Little Dreams) by director Zahra al-Boudi and "Fi Itar Film" (within the Frame of a Film) by Directors Majd al-Zagher and Tulip al-Zoughbi got appreciation certificates.

Interviewed by Rawaa Ghanam