CAIRO - 17 August 2017: A Syrian Love Story, released in 2015, follows for over a period of 5 years the lives of two married activists, Amer Daoud and Raghda Hassan.
The BBC film starts with the filmmaker, Sean McAllister, arriving in Syria along with journalist from all over the world in 2008 to promote tourism by shooting the country's touristic hot spots. Eight months later, he comes across Daoud.
The curious filmmaker met Daoud and he started to record his life, his children at his home and his wife was in jail because of authoring a book that criticizes the Assad's regime.
Daoud tells his story; he was a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. He spent 3 years in prison, where he fell in love through a small hole in the wall with Raghda Hassan a Syrian rebel imprisoned in the neighboring cell, who after their release became his wife.
A few months later, the revolution erupted in 2011. Fortunately, Hassan was released in 2011 due to an amnesty. But shortly after her release the filmmaker himself was arrested, detained, and had his equipment confiscated, which included footage of the family members boldly criticizing the regime, and of Daoud supporting the demonstrations and organizing protests in Damascus.
The family inevitably had to leave Syria, so they went to Lebanon. Homesick Hassan whose blood was boiling for being away from the revolution, she returned to Syria leaving her family behind.
McAlister takes you suddenly to Paris where the family was once again reunited, and where they sought refuge. It was a big step, which apparently seemed good, but in fact brought even more drama to their lives.
Technically, this documentary is perhaps the least qualified in this list of recommendations. The British filmmaker is obviously an unqualified interviewer, and the film editing is not the best thing. These elements made me feel a bit disappointed watching this documentary. But what made me recommend it is its portrayal of how being a revolutionary and going on exile can deeply impact the people's personal lives, and lead to a shift in their children's ideas and identities.
People usually think that the release of political activist from prison and their success in gaining a refuge in a first world country is the end of the refugees' story. This film cleverly proves this conception wrong.
A Syrian love story appears to be about the intimate love story between Daoud and Hassan, but it can also be perceived as the twisted love of the Syrian refugees to their country.