Silvered Water


A scene from the film "Silvered Water: Syria Self-Portrait.
Photo via YouTube

How can the world learn about a terrible war? Liz Waid and Adam Navis tell about a film about real life in the Syrian civil war.

Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2 

And I’m Adam Navis. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

Wiam Simav Bedirxan is a school teacher from Homs, Syria. Since 2011, her country has been fighting a civil war. Fighting between the government and rebel forces has been very bad. And officials have closed all the schools in Homs. So, Bedirxan can no longer work.

Voice 2 

Today, Bedirxan follows a little boy named Omar around Homs. She is using a camera to film his day. Bombs have destroyed the city. But Omar has still created places to play. Omar shows Bedirxan the place where his father is buried. Then, in the middle of a street ruined by bombs, Omar finds a flower. After this, Omar and Bedirxan run from a soldier. Bedirxan is very afraid. Later in the day, from behind the camera, she says,

Voice 3 

"Will I die of torture in the back room of a rebel leader?"

Voice 1 

This story is part of a film about Syria’s civil war. It is a film about real life. And it was recorded by normal Syrian citizens, like Bedirxan. Today’s Spotlight is on the film Silvered Water: Syria Self-Portrait.

Voice 2 

Ossama Mohammed is a famous Syrian filmmaker. However, now, he lives far away from Syria, in Paris, France. Mohammed spent most of his life in Syria. For many years, he worked for the Syrian government's Ministry of Culture. He made films about Syrian life and culture. He loved his country.

Voice 1 

Then, in May of 2011, Mohammed travelled to France. He went to show one of his films at the famous Cannes Film Festival. At the time, people in Syria were protesting against the government. And the government was arresting protestors. While Mohammed was in Paris, he spoke on television. He encouraged the Syrian government to release political prisoners. After his public statements, individuals in Syria began threatening him. They sent him death threats. They said that if he returned to Syria, they would kill him. He could not return to his country, so he stayed in Paris.

Voice 2 

But being in Paris was very difficult. He was safe there. But it was not easy. Every day, he looked at images of the Syrian civil war in the newspaper and on the Internet. He felt sad because there was nothing he could do. He told Unifrance Press,

Voice 4 

"I felt at war on a personal level. It was difficult for me to admit that I was outside Syria and that people kept being killed over there. I was going through a very dark, painful time. I asked myself at every chance, 'What can I do for my people?'"

Voice 1 

Back in Syria, Wiam Simav Bedirxan was wondering the same thing: "What can I do for my people?" Officials in Homs had closed the schools. And Bedirxan had to stop teaching. But she wanted to do something. War was destroying her country. Children were dying. People were starving. And many of her students’ parents had died in the war.

Voice 2 

Bedirxan decided she wanted to film the tragic events she saw around her. But she did not know exactly what to film or how. So she emailed Ossama Mohammed. Bedirxan had never met Mohammed, but she knew he was a famous filmmaker. She asked him,

Voice 3 

"If your camera were here, in Homs, what would you be filming?"

Voice 1 

Mohammed and Bedirxan began communicating using e-mail. He told her to film everything she possibly could. So Bedirxan did. She slept with her camera. She woke up with her camera by her side. She spent time with children on the streets of Homs. She filmed soldiers taking women. She filmed destroyed buildings and public spaces. She filmed men crying over the bodies of their sons. And everything she filmed, she sent to Mohammed over the internet.

Voice 2 

For two years, Bedirxan and Mohammed worked together. They wrote each other about their struggles. They talked about the war. And they began to make a film about the Syrian people. But to tell the story well, they wanted to use more than just Bedirxan’s story. So, Mohammed and Bedirxan spent many months looking on the internet for images and videos made by Syrian citizens. These images were recorded by protestors, soldiers, fathers, mothers, children and even people who died later in the war. Mohammed mixed thousands of these images with Bedirxan’s recordings. And the result was a powerful witness to life during the war.

Voice 1 

The film also contains Mohammed and Bedirxan's voices telling their thoughts and experiences. And it includes beautiful music. The Arab singer Noma Omran sings songs of mourning that play along with the images. Together, these images and sounds create the film Silvered Water: Syria Self Portrait. "Silvered Water" is a translation of Bedirxan's name "Simav."

Voice 2 

"Silvered Water" has played at film competitions all around the world. In October of 2014, the film won "Best Documentary" at the London Film Festival. Sophie Fiennes is an English film director and producer. She spoke at the official award announcement. In her speech, she said,

Voice 5 

"The film is hard to watch because the fact of war is and should be impossible to watch. Bedirxan’s desire to be a dependable witness is full of emotion and courage. The way she tries to understand and survive her terrible situation in Homs is deeply moving. Ossama Mohammed’s exile in Paris is also powerful. He represents our own safe distance from the war. But the miracle of the film is how it involves us."

Voice 1 

The Syrian conflict has been a terrible war. In the last 3 years, 6.5 million Syrians have fled their homes. Three million have fled their country. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have died. And even more now live in extreme poverty and danger.

Voice 2 

For many of us, war seems very far away. We may see quick images on our television screens. But often, the reality of war is not always clear. Distance can make war seem cleaner, or safer than it is. But today, normal citizens have the power to show the world what war is like. And this is what the Syrian people have done in “Silvered Water”. Through this film, the Syrian people have a voice. And their acts of filming have become a united act of witness for the world.

Voice 1 

The writer of this program was Jen Hawkins. The producer was Mark Drenth. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, “Silvered Water."

Voice 2 

You can also leave your comments on our website. And find us on Facebook - just search for Spotlight Radio. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye!

Question:

There are wars and problems around the world. What are some ways people can learn about these problems? Are some ways better than others?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
dungn9926@gmail.com
said on March 02, 2015

we’re lucky to live in the peace and independence.Imaging how we will if the war repeats in our country.May we can not suffer violence and lacking live.

JoaoVBR's avatar
JoaoVBR
said on March 14, 2015

Resultados da pesquisa

  “Silvered Water” deserved the award in London. It was a excellent idea. People in countries at war have a voice nowadays, mainly because the modern technologies of communication. But we mustn’t forget that they may receive death threats, like in the history spoken in this program.

So, media systems (television, radio, internet…) should show clear and true informations about the reality of these countries. This will help us to don’t forget that many places in the world are at war in fact.

Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on March 17, 2016

From:browndeepshell@hotmail.com (Severino Ramos)
To: spotlight
Subject: answer to the question above
Date: Thursday 17, March 2016.
Brazil

Dear Liz Waid, Adam Navis, Jen Hawkins, and Jen Drenth:

There are some ways people can learn about these problems such as: to love each other how our God taught us, to live in Peace and respecting each other, to stop fighting between them, and do not be so greedy. Besides, we humans need the minimum to live for example: our parents, grandparents, Brothers, sisters, and Family in general together to live in Peace. Also, basic things to survive as our house, food every day, clothes, shoes, and pets (cats,dogs, Birds, and etc). Yes, I thinh so. But depend on the point of view that each other sees the situation. Therefore, once more I want to thank you by more one excellent matter that you have shown for us. Thank you very much.

All the best,
Severino Ramos
Brazil