For his second feature film, A syrian family, Philippe Van Leeuw plunges us into the hellish situation in syria any closer to a family trapped in his house.
A SYRIAN FAMILY is in competition at the Festival Francophone d’angoulême.
Several qualifiers remain hanging in the heart after having seen A SYRIAN FAMILY: harrowing, chilling, powerful. The thrilling experience leaves the viewer breathless and paralyzed. The director, Philippe Van Leeux, who presented her film at the first French Festival International du Film de La Rochelle, has perfectly achieved its intention. Alarmed by the situation in Syria as of 2011, cannot remain without doing anything, he wanted to show “the impact of such chaos on the ordinary people, as well as the way in which some individuals take advantage of the chaos”. And chaos, we in fact live for 85 long minutes, the sides of this family hidden in his apartment.Focusing on the sequence shots and the 16/9th, the director also acknowledges his film a nature documentary. His camera traverses the rooms of the apartment in the not of its central character Oum. This woman of fifty years is interpreted with great intensity by Hiam Abbas, for whom the director wrote the role. With the help of his servant Delhani (Juliette Navis), it is everywhere at once. She continues to live in the household without complaining. Pillar of the house, she knows she must be at the height of the situation and that she has no right to falter. She needs to take difficult decisions, sometimes painful, that are alleged to have committed. She spreads her strength and courage to his two teenage daughters and young son, rowdy, to his father-in-law cultivated deeply in despair, his young neighbor, Halima (Diamond Bou Abboud) that she has collected in her home with her baby, or the friend of her daughter.
“A huis-clos chilling that elicits empathy for all the characters “
In the distance, the explosions, the noises, the snipers who shoot in the yard. Death lurks. The building has emptied itself little by little, and the sound of footsteps on the stairs and blows violently on the front door punctuate the days. This door that everyone works to keep barricaded, low protection vis-à-vis the outside. The director manages very well to convey the fear gnawing in which the family lives. But also the shortage of food and water, and the long wait for news of her husband missing from Oum. The radio and sometimes the mobile phone remain the link with the world. A few words are exchanged, but the looks say it all sometimes longer than the words. The original title InSyereted, symbolised quite this situation of confinement, entrapment and choking. Without being able to precisely locate the events, which could just as well happen in another war in another country, the viewer has no other choice than to feel great empathy for the characters.The director makes a tribute to women, whom he knows to be of “high priority targets in time of war”. Because the heart of the film is a rape scene, on which Philippe Van Leeuw , however, has not wanted to focus “by modesty and respect, with the desire to show scenes watchable for the greatest number”. It gives the choice of sacrifice is to avoid the worst, and it is ultimately more about the impact of the rape on each member of the family that the filmmaker has chosen to dwell. Which is upsetting, it is precisely the awareness of the protagonists and the change of their gaze on each other. In turn, cowardice, anger, gratitude, humanity, forgiveness, courage, and kindness captured the feelings of everyone. Not all of them will not grow up, but each one will reveal himself.
Finally, what makes the peculiarity of A SYRIAN FAMILY, it is that the actors, far from all of the professionals live yet, for some of them, in Syria. This has forced the producer to a certain degree of vigilance not to take part in the conflict in order to not put them in danger. Behind closed doors marked by humanity, A SYRIAN FAMILY is one of the rare films that allow such identification for all of the characters at the same time. Audience award at the 67th Berlinale film festival – Panorama section, he absolutely deserves to be seen to better capture the drama of these families.
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• Realization : Philippe Van Leeuw
• Scenario : Philippe Van Leeuw
• Main actors : Hiam Abbass, Juliette Navis
• Release Date : 6 September 2017
• Duration : 1h25min