"Ballad for Syria" came about our deep friendship with Maisa Alhafez a Syrian musician in Istanbul, whom together we embarked on a musical journey that overcame borders. As a first step, hierarchical positions of the filmmaker and the one who is being filmed had to be eliminated, we therefore directed and narrated it together. Hence our intention in making this film has been to transform such power structures and yet at the same time to influence the mainstream media narrative on who a refugee is. By highlighting on the notions of agency and transformation throughout the film we show the singularity of human becoming and of its fundamental impact on changing the status quo. To influence one's thoughts and to calm down their perceptions on fear and the unknown, evoking emotions has been essential. We made use of music and love as our universal connectors. Recently a reporter from Sabah Daily news wrote "This 47-minute film has the viewer laughing and crying, singing and dancing at the same time” (read here).
Human connection is what we tried to achieve, so first we as the narrators had to connect to each other, we needed a strong bond and so we took the risk of taking the unconsciousness of each other. By long hours and days of non stop conversations, we went through the traumas of war and losses we endured in life. We did not always talk too much on the hurtful past, but faced the present and imagined the future, for tomorrows that could be better. Throughout our emotionally challenging but incredibly inspiring time together, Maisa initiated a new NGO with her fiancé William Diwana in the Netherlands Tomorrow is Better that now has more then 100 volunteers only in Istanbul where they give psycho social support to Syrian children. And this is what the film eventually became of; our sisterhood and Maisa's love to music and her people.
The film delves into Maisa's own personal story and her longing for her loved ones as she tries to make a place for herself in the world of the displaced. Her family still in Syria, Maisa's true love and fiancé migrated to the Netherlands. As of the current EU-Turkey border regime, for them to unite is very challenging. Not giving up, Maisa works hard for her vision to transform the borders by building a multicultural community that is "The Istanbul Mosaic Oriental Choir," a diverse family that sings together, in which she believes through music and love one can heal the wounds of her people and children. For more information on the film and to follow up the recent news >>> www.balladforsyria.com
Right after we published the film on May 2017, Ballad for Syria, has racked up an Award of Recognition by the Hollywood Independent Documentary Film Festival in May as well as received an Outstanding Achievement Award for Free Speech by the Calcutta International Cult Film Festival in India. It was also an official selection at DOCUMENTARIST, a festival held last June in Istanbul, where the film made its debut in Turkey as well as at DOCfeed in Eindhoven, Italy's Impact DOCS Awards and Roma Cinema Doc and the Largo Film Festival. The film is currently being shown all around the world from Egypt to Check Republic, Indonesia, Peru to Libya as part of IOMs Global Migration Film festival *https://www.iom.int/official-selection.
Maisa through the invitations to screen her film has eventually made it to the Netherlands with a culture Schengen visa , where she got the film screened at the Tropen Museum in central Amsterdam. A Dutch musician among the audience admitted how single minded he was about Syrians and Syria before watching the film and that now after seeing the film he feels part of a wider musical family. He voiced his heart by saying that it would be his pleasure to take part in Maisa's choir.
Maisa also made a visit to the largest refugee camp in Athens Greece where she did musical therapies with the children there and recently spoke at the UN in Geneva last July, as part of Dr.Rama Mani's theatre of transformation events> “United Beyond Borders” which I as well documented.
Based on her extensive experience in governance and security over the past 25 years, Rama Mani developed "Theatre of Transformation” as an innovative vehicle to address critical global crises in collaboration with the University of Oxford. Together with Rama, we are now working on a new documentary film “The Art of Transformation" that will showcase a methodology of transforming the world, particularly for those emerging change makers around the globe. The major idea is to inspire people so to transform “the love of power to the power of love” .
Article by Eda Elif Tibet
More information could be found under our independent documentary film label that is run by anthropologists, artists, environment and human rights defenders from around the globe > www.karmamotion.com . Please do write to us if you have an inspiring story to tell.