The Moderation of Creative Dissidence in Syria: Reem Ali’s Documentary Zabad
Van de Peer, Stefanie
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Van de Peer, S. (2012) The Moderation of Creative Dissidence in Syria: Reem Ali’s Documentary Zabad. Journal for Cultural Research, 16 (2-3), pp. 297-317.
The documentary camera in Syria is emerging as one of the most powerful tools in raising awareness during this current revolution. While foreign media have been banned from the country, revolutionaries and ordinary Syrians are capturing events and people on their small digital and other cameras in order to testify about their struggle. This attests to the power of the image and to the political effectiveness of the documentary. This article briefly covers the nature of political film- and documentary-making in Syria. The author points out the contribution of Omar Amiralay and Hala al-Abdallah to this trend and specifically deals with a young woman’s documentary that subtly and moderately engages with politics and family matters. Reem Ali’s 2008 documentary Zabad shows that negotiations with dissidence and political repression take place on many different levels, and that the uprisings are not only due to sudden changes leading to “democratic” sensibilities in reaction to contextual factors and enabled through neighbouring practices. In fact, artistic dissidence comes as a consequence of numerous dissident activities that have already been reacting to years of institutional and social repression.