Thursday, May 08, 2014

SFIFF: Return to Homs

Wednesday evening I was at the San Francisco International Film Festival to see the Syrian documentary Return to Homs. It was filmed in the sieged city of Homs over the period 2011 to 2013 & puts the viewer directly in the middle of the fighting, alongside a group of hardscrabble rebels. The footage is intense & unflinching. Homs looks like a city that's had an atomic bomb dropped on it. We're taken through bombed-out buildings & inside grizzly surgery rooms & allowed to witness battles & deaths in the streets. I felt the confusion & claustrophobia of being in a war zone.

The film sticks to reportage of the immediate plight of the rebel fighters. Focus eventually settles on a young man named Basset, first seen rousing mobs of men during exuberant street protests, then as the leader of armed rebels. He's handsome, athletic, impassioned & a show-off. His tenacity & increasing dedication to the war, even after he is repeatedly wounded, made me more & more fearful of him, & I took a long walk in the cold air after the movie was over.

§ Return to Homs
Director: Talal Derki
Syria, Germany, 2013, 87 mins.

§ The 57th Annual San Francisco International Film Festival
May 4, 2014, 9:00 p.m.  Sundance Kabuki Cinema
May 6, 2014, 6:30 p.m.  BAM/PFA
May 7, 2014, 6:15 p.m.  Sundance Kabuki Cinema

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