Those Who Remained

Those Who Remained (Albakoun)

Directed by Lina Sinjab

  • Syria;
  • Original version: Arabic
  • Genre: Documentary

  • MADNESS IN ALEPPO previous work of director Lina Sinjab, available for screening on Festival Scope

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Damascus has become smaller, tighter and heavier. The lightness we lived in and enjoyed before the war and during the optimistic times of the early days of the uprising has faded away. People left, friends died, other disappeared in prisons, and the city has new occupants now. The price of the war lies heavy over Damascus. You can feel it in every corner. Khaled and few other friends are still holding to the remaining of home. But I see him day in day out trying to find the home that was. It is a mirage, I like to call it. The war is a mirage, being an exile is a mirage, the death toll the destruction the fact that all our hopes and dreams faded away is also a mirage. I don’t want to believe it. Since I left Syria in 2013, I was devastated and all what I wanted is to go back. Damascus is no longer the city I grew up in. Khaled still believes it is.  He is in denial, I think. Since day one he is in denial. In 2011, he told us with is optimistic spirit, cynical attitude and big laughter on his round chubby face that the uprising will start in Aleppo and in two weeks things will change for the better.. We all loved his enthusiasm but he was wrong. “Al Bakoun” is a journey back home through the life that Khaled still holds on to and I have lost. 

Director's Statement

I was there when the first protest began and couldn't believe it is happening. I watched people breaking their fear as I broke mine. I paid the price and was detained and then was forced to leave. This is when I was filled with guilt of leaving behind people in danger while I enjoyed the safety outside Syria. I watched the world watching Syria as I was falling in depression and helplessness while my country was falling apart. We became numbers. Death in my country didn’t matter anymore. I myself became numb to what’s happening there. But deep inside, there was an excruciating pain that I could not live with anymore.
I wanted to tell the story of home, my home. I wanted to capture what I’ve missed through the eyes of those who remained. Is it still the same?
Cities are mainly defined by their own people, their habits, interactions and warmth and bonding with their surroundings. The war in Syria has forced millions to abandon their cities seeking safety. Damascus is unrecognizable, to me at least. Faces have changed, and most of its residents have left. “Those who remained” tries to tell the story of those who managed to stay put.
Since I left, every time I manage to visit Damascus, the link to my city fades away. I became a stranger in my own country.  Except for Khaled. Maybe he is the one who keeps holding the image of the life we had, and funnily, he still holds the dream of the life we wanted in Syria. Holding on to him and filming him, perhaps helps me to keep my soul alive, the soul that I lost when I lost hope.