DOX BOX GLOBAL DAY
The 14th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival - Images of the 21st Century hosted the DOX BOX GLOBAL DAY on Thursday, March 15, 2012, at IEK AKMI.
This is an initiative of the Syrian Documentary Festival GLOBAL DOX BOX, which cannot be held in that country due to the current political situation, and is instead organized in various countries at regular intervals. Diana El Jeiroudi and Orwa Nyrabia, two of the founders of the DOX BOX festival, were present at the 14th TDF, presenting two short documentaries: Step By Step by veteran director Ossama Mohammad and Tournesols, by a new director who calls himself Temporarily Anonymous. Admission to the screenings was free to the public.
The program director of the DOX BOX Festival, Orwa Nyrabia was first to speak, noting: "Today is the first anniversary of the revolution in Syria. In this one year, over 10,000 people have died. Under these conditions, we have neither the time nor the right frame of mind to screen films in our country. So, looking for a way to do it I believe that presenting our countrymen’s films to the world today is the best help we can give them. At the same time, we wish to destroy the stereotypes through which the rest of the world looks at Syria." Mr. Nyrabia continued, introducing Ossama Mohammad’s documentary Step by Step: "It is a very careful look at how we got here, how we lost our humanity and our compassion, and were corrupted by power and military authority. The film has never been screened in Syria, because if it were, the director’s life would be in danger. Despite being filmed in 1978, it is an example of how the military regime has been oppressing the people all these years." Regarding the film Tournesols, Mr. Nyrabia stated: “It was shot this past August, and since then its anonymous director has been hiding from the authorities. In spite of the fact that it is a very harsh film, reality in our country is still incomparably much harsher”.
Immediately following the screening, a discussion was held between the guests and the public. Mr. Nyrabia observed the repulsion that dictatorships feel for memory: “The Assad regime is responsible for the fact that we have no visual memory as a country. We can’t even really remember what it used to look like. It is obvious that dictatorships have a great problem with memory and do whatever they can to erase it. In 1982 events similar to this year’s happened, but there was no YouTube then. Citizens now do whatever they can, and use new media to communicate better among each other and with the outside world.” The DOX BOX festival director then focused on the tragic incident that took place a few weeks ago when a tank made a frontal attack against the bulk of a mass of demonstrators. “I don’t believe there is a similar precedent in world history. When the situation gets to this point, it is necessary to find a solution, as difficult as it might be, even if it is obvious that the West has no desire to interfere in the massacre caused by the Assad regime” he noted. However, Mr. Nyrabia did not neglect to mention the explosion of creativity that characterizes the Syrian people, while in the middle of a revolution. “There is an unprecedented blossoming of music and comedy. You see people no one had heard of before rising in these fields, who take part in stand-up comedy happenings, compose music and create amazing remakes of traditional songs”, he explained.
In turn, Diana El Jeiroudi spoke about the role of women in the Syrian revolution, among other things: “Generally, the contribution of women is undervalued. However, this doesn’t mean that they participate any less, they just function under certain rules and take on specific missions. They are often moved to more secure locations, in order to be protected, but also to protect the revolution. For instance, when I drive a car carrying medical supplies I can go through a road block without being searched, exactly because they don’t suspect me”.
Answering a question as to whether the two DOX BOX Festival organizers are worried about the possible consequences of their actions, Mr. Nyrabia observed: “We remain relatively safe as long as they consider us intellectuals. Meaning that they believe no one pays any attention to what we say”. In contrast, Ms El Jeiroudi sounded an alarm: “Day by day the Assad regime is hardening its position. The situation is now very unstable, and we have to act immediately. It is utopian to think we are safe”.