Among the previews of the Film Festival of Alès, Wanderings, it has been discovered TADMOR, a documentary unprecedented on the prisons in syria, referring to the hell prison of former lebanese detainees.
After Massaker, a first film on Sabra and Shatila in 2004, the directors Monika Borgmann and Lokman Slim , and their team have invested a former school where they re-enacted the prison of Tadmor (otherwise known as Palmyra), one of the hardest of Syria. Seven former prisoners testify and recount their years in detention (up to 14 years for some), during which they were tortured and humiliated, with an unprecedented cruelty. Facing the camera at the center of an empty room, they bring back some of their abuse and the rituals sadistic daily that punctuated their days, the cover soaked with which they had to cover themselves with after a shower boiling hot, the cockroaches that the jailers their forced to swallow, the blows constant. And when there are no more words, they mimic the gestures and words of their torturers, playing in turn the victims and their executioners. In one of the scenes, one of them goes crazy and begins to scream. People tend to forget then for a moment there is a reconstruction, and one is astonished in front of this face, the haggard-looking.
The process, admittedly risky, works perfectly even if sometimes it bothers them more than the shakes. One cannot help but wonder how they were able to relive the unbearable to witness. But if one understands well the interest cathartic of such a process, it feels fast enough put away that we dare to believe therapeutic. Some plans are nevertheless very strong, like those of the faces of these men forced to silence, or those where we see them to pluck tiny pieces of wire to try and make eye to sleep. They played with such truth their hell that one sometimes has the impression of being in front of a performance of actors. And it may be that inconvenient. Where you would imagine you will feel the horror behind their memories retold and “played” the end, we become witnesses kept at a distance of a narrative that seems to speak to us. In S21, the machine of death, Khmer rouge, when Rithy Pahn asked prison wardens to repeat the gestures that they needed our imagination did the rest and we could almost see the ghosts of the prisoners missing. And it was extremely disturbing and moving.
TADMOR remains despite everything a movie strong, necessary, and is a real work of memory around this syrian episode. It is also a praise to the life force that Man is able to deploy to survive in conditions unimaginable. The film has found a distributor recently and should come out on the screens French soon.
Anne Laure Farges
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• Original title : Tadmor
• Realization :
Monika Borgmann and Lokman Slim
• Duration : 1h43min