Tadmor

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    Tadmor

    Directed by

    Lebanon, Switzerland, France

    2016

    103 min

    • Arabic

    Documentary

    Amidst the popular uprising against the Syrian regime that began in 2011, a group of former Lebanese detainees decides to break their long-held silence about the horrific years they spent imprisoned in Tadmor (Palmyra), one of the Assad regime's most dreadful prisons. They decide to testify publicly about the systematic torture and humiliation they experienced. To reclaim and overcome this dark chapter in their lives, they rebuild Tadmor in an abandoned school near Beirut. By playing the role of both "victim" and "victimizer," they will relive their survival.

    Awards

    • Special Mention, Best Swiss Feature Film (International Competition) - Visions du Réel
    • The Political Film of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung - Filmfest Hamburg

    Festivals

    Credits

    Screenplay
    Monika Borgmann
    Cinematography
    Talal Khoury
    Editing
    Olivier Zuchuat
    Music
    Pierre Jodlowski

    Director's Statement

    "When I was in Tadmor Prison, I thought my life had ended… Fear, sickness, defeat… Humiliation upon humiliation upon humiliation… Words cannot describe the brutality I experienced… Life had passed me by… But we returned from hell… Freedom is as precious as the soul… To the prisoners who are still suffering: May God get you out of there…"
    These were the words we heard in 2012, when we started our research for the film Tadmor. These were the words used to describe Tadmor Prison by a group of men who survived its horrors. Tadmor had just one purpose: the complete physical and psychological destruction of its inmates.
    Ali. Saad. Moussa. Raymond. Moustafa. Rashid. Elias. Camille. Marwan. Jamal. Jamil. Yahya. Darwish. Ali. Jalal. Saeb. Houssein. Mohammad. Fouad. Ibrahim. Mahmoud. Ali. Sons, husbands, friends, fathers, lovers, all of them had rich lives before their arbitrary incarceration in Assad’s Syrian prisons. All of them survived. Thousands of others did not…
    How to make a film about such a carceral system and about the rawest of emotions, such as fear, terror, hate, disgust, shame, pain, weakness, helplessness, boredom, resistance, hope and strength? The answer came from them, the survivors themselves. In Tadmor, they guided us and we followed.
    In an extraordinary endeavor of collaboration and trust, built on a years-long and enduring relationship, the men were ready to confront—together—their common past.
    Words alone could not describe the cruelty of their detention. Words alone could not exorcise that horrendous past. Ultimately, the men chose to reenact it. They wanted to relive it.
    Together, we searched for a place they could use to rebuild their isolation and collective cells. Together, we created the scenes they would reenact. Together, we prepared each phase in the filming.
    In Tadmor, twenty-two men recall their individual and collective stories of torture and survival. They speak for themselves, but also for those who are still trying to survive the same systematic torture and humiliation.

    Production
    LES FILMS DE L'ETRANGER
    Production
    GOLDENEGG PRODUCTION
    Production
    UMAM PRODUCTIONS
    Sales
    DOC & FILM INTERNATIONAL

    Press

    An extraordinarily brave testimonial.

    Giorgia Del Don, Cineuropa

    Lokman Slim

    Lokman Slim

    Lebanon

    Born in Lebanon, he studied philosophy in Paris. After returning to Lebanon, he founded the Dar al-Jadeed publishing house, where he offered established, controversial and new writers opportunities to engage with the public. Slim is an essayist, humanitarian and leading spokesman for the preservation of Lebanese history and advancement of its culture. Slim began collaborating with Monika Borgmann in 2001 when they co-directed the feature documentary MASSACRE (MASSAKER, 2004). The film was screened at more than sixty international film festivals and was released to the cinema in France and Greece in 2006. Massaker received seven awards, including the Fipresci Prize at the 2005 Berlinale. In 2016, they reunited with TADMOR.

    Monika Borgmann

    Monika Borgmann

    Germany

    Born in Germany, she studied Arabic and Political Sciences in Bonn and Damascus. From 1990 to 2001, she worked in the Middle East and North Africa as a freelance journalist for German radio and “Die Zeit.” BORGMANN holds dual German/Lebanese citizenship and is the author of Saïd Mekbel, une mort à la lettre (2008. Dar Al-Jadeed Publications, Lebanon and Téraède Éditions, France). Borgmann began collaborating with Lokman Slim in 2001 when they co-directed the feature documentary MASSACRE (MASSAKER, 2004). The film was screened at more than sixty international film festivals and was released to the cinema in France and Greece in 2006. Massaker received seven awards, including the Fipresci Prize at the 2005 Berlinale. In 2016, they reunited with TADMOR.