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Reel Syria


London / Edinburgh

March 15-18

A 4 day festival of Syrian films, music and theatre, London & Edinburgh, March 15-18 2012

At a time when Syria appears engulfed in violent conflict, the festival will present a nuanced portrait of the country and its people. On the anniversary of the uprising, Mosaic Initiative for Syria will also raise funds for Syrian displaced and affected by the current violent crackdown.

Ali Ferzat's work has been highly critical of the Syrian regime

Highlights of the festival include a panel discussion featuring world famous Syrian Caricaturist Ali Ferzat, a Syrian film programme as part of DoxBox Global Day 2012 including a screening of A Flood in Ba’ath Country directed by the late, celebrated Syrian documentary maker Omar Amiralay, a performance of Score 328: SURROUND by ‘The 17’ an international public performance project conceived by artist/author/musician Bill Drummond (KLF), an evening panel discussion on creative resistance with guests including Syrian Caricaturist  Ali FerzatAsian Dub Foundation‘s Steve Chandra Savale, Syrian novelists Manhal Alsarraj andMamdouh Azzam, and others. Following this we will host a screening of ‘Zabad’ as part of DoxBox Global Day and have readings by Syrian novelists including Ghalia Kabbani. There will also be a fundraising Syrian-style bazaar and major fundraising concert featuring Samih Choukeir for humanitarian aid for Syria in association with Mosaic Initiative, held at Kensington Town Hall.

Check out our blog for the most up to date details:


Thursday 15th March

7:00 pm: DoxBox Syria Global Day 2012: A Flood in Baath Country & Film Essay on the Euphrates Dam

Tickets: £10/£8   |   Location: Frontline Club,13 Norfolk Place, W2 1QJ

A Flood in Baath Country

Omar Amiralay was Syria’s best-known documentary film-maker. These two award-winning films are a searing critique of the Ba’ath party’s failure to live up to its promises. DoxBox is Syria’s only independent documentary film festival, taking place in exile this year in several cities around the world. Presented in association with the Frontline Club |


Friday 16th March

5.00pm – 7.30pm: Culture under Fire: Creative Resistance in Syria.

Free Entry   |   Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road, EC1R 3GA

Join some of Syria’s best known authors, artists and poets for a discussion on repression and cultural resistance.

Featuring: Ali Ferzat, Manhal Alsarraj, Mamdouh Azzam, Donatella Della Ratta, Steve Chandra Savale from Asian Dub Foundation. Chair: Robin Yassin-Kassab

Ali Ferzat is a celebrated Syrian cartoonist who was awarded the 2011 Press Freedom Prize by Reporters Without Borders and Le Monde. In 2000, Ferzat launched the satirical newspaper, Al-Domari, which was forced to close three years later by the Ba’ath authorities, and his cartoons have been banned in several Arab countries. Since the popular uprising began in Syria in March 2011, he has made the government’s violent crackdown on protests the central theme of his work. For denouncing the corruption and abuses of Bashar Al-Assad’s rule, he was attacked in August by masked gunmen, who broke his hands as a warning. He has been nominated for Index on Censorship’s 2012 award for artists, filmmakers and writers whose work asserts artistic freedom and battles against repression and injustice.

Manhal Alsarraj is an award winning Syrian author. She has published a number of books including Overcoming The Bridge (1997) and As the River Must (2000), which was banned from publication in Syria  as it dealt with the Hama massacre of 1982, and On My Chest (2007). Her most recent novel was Defiant Blood, released in 2011 by Dar al-Adab.

Mamdouh Azzam is a Syrian novelist, whose works are a damning portrait of life under a dictatorship, as well as being beautiful works of literature. His novel Rain Palace (1998) was banned by the Ministry of Culture for religious/political reasons and his latest novel, Women of the Imagination (2011), is a story of a book-obsessed teacher living under the Ba’athist regime.

Steve Chandra Savale, also known by his stage names Chandrasonic and best known for his punk rave aesthetic as the guitarist for the ground-breaking British band Asian Dub Foundation. In 2009, he presented a series of documentaries for Al-Jazeera English called Music of Resistance.

Donatella Della Ratta is an academic specializing in the study of Syrian cultural production at the University of Copenhagen and the Danish Institute in Damascus. Author of several articles for leading scholarly journals, she focuses on culture of resistance in Syria and its implications.

Robin Yassin-Kassab‘s first novel The Road from Damascus is published by Penguin. He is currently working on his second novel while co-editing The Critical Muslim, a new quarterly magazine, and He writes book reviews and political pieces for the British and international press, and blogs at

Presented in association with Index on Censorship


8:30-10:00 pm: DoxBox Syria Global Day 2012: Film Screening: Zabad & Readings by Ghalia Kabbani

Zabad is a beautiful and timely allegory, focusing on a family being pulled apart by the difficult realities they face as politcal dissidents in Syria.

Galia Kabbani

Galia Kabbani

Ghalia Kabbani will also be reading some of her new work at this event. Ms Kabbani is a Syrian writer who has worked as a journalist since 1979 and is currently a columnist at Al-Hayat newspaper.  In 1992 she published a volume of short stories and in 1998 her first novel, The Mirror of Summer, in Cairo. Her second collection of short stories was published in 2003, and her third in 2005. She recently published her second novel Secrets and Lies which deals with Syrian lives under Assad’s family regime. In 2008 she was chosen to be a member of the first jury for Arab novel prize IPAF,(the Arabic version of the Booker) and she is a board member of Exiled Writers InK in London.

Free entry   |   Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road, EC1R 3GA

Saturday 17th March

4:00 pm: Mosaic Initiative for Syria Fundraising Bazaar – for the humanitarian

relief effort in Syria.  Location: Kensington Town Hall, Hornton Street, London, W8 7NX

YouTube Preview Image

7:00 pm: Mosaic Initiative Fundraising Gala, featuring the renowned Syrian composer, singer and poet, Samih Choukeir (pictured below), as well as a performance by Khyam Allami on the oud. There will also be an audience with Ali Ferzat, the celebrated Syrian political cartoonist.

Location: Kensington Town Hall   |   Mosaic Initiative email: [email protected]

Sunday 18th March:


1:00 pm: Bill Drummond: SURROUND in Damascus is an interactive art piece created for Syria in 2011 by legendary artist and musician Bill Drummond. It will now take place in exile, in London. Limited places are available.

To take part and become a member of The17, Bill Drummond’s international choir please email [email protected] | Free Entry


Thursday 15th March

6.30pm: As part of DoxBox Syria Global Day 2012, Reel Syria present the UK premiere of Hajar al-Aswad (Black Stone) by acclaimed Syrian director Nidal al Dibs. Follow the lives of 4 children from the renowned Hajar al-Aswad district of Damascus. Followed by discussion panel on creativity and resistance featuring: Film-maker Roxana Vilk (Iran/Scotland); Poet Ghazi Hussein (Palestine/Syria); and University of Edinburgh lecturer Dr Thomas Pierret TICKETS AVAILABLE NOW



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About Us

Reel Festivals is a Firefly International project. Firefly International aims to encourage dialogue and communication through the arts, and is based in Edinburgh, Scotland. For more information please visit

  • Address: Reel Festivals, c/o Firefly International, PO Box 67864, London SE24 4AU, UK
  • Charity Number: SC 028744


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