A Syrian Love Story produced by alumna Elhum Shakerifar (MA Visual Anthropology, 2006) and directed by Sean McAllister won the Grand Jury Award at this year’s Sheffield Doc/Fest. Sheffield Doc/Fest brings the international documentary family together to celebrate the art and business of documentary making.
Filmed over five years, the film charts an incredible odyssey to political freedom in the West. For Raghda and Amer, it is a journey of hope, dreams and despair: for the revolution, their homeland and each other.
Amer and Ragda met when they were both locked up in a Syrian jail for speaking out against an oppressive regime. Twenty years and four sons later, filmmaker Sean McAllister comes into their lives, as Amer is waiting for Ragda to be released after being imprisoned again. McAllister and his subjects’ lives become irrevocably intertwined when McAllister himself is jailed, and footage of the family is confiscated.
Amer and Ragda must flee overnight to Lebanon with nothing but their children. McAllister follows their story over five turbulent years, as they struggle to find their feet as refugees; Ragda, in particular, can’t bear to be away from Syria in its hour of greatest need. As they watch Syria descend into chaos, they struggle to repair their troubled relationship.
A Syrian Love Story, powerful and moving story of family and exile, opens in UK cinemas and on video-on-demand from 18 September 2015 with a special preview and Q&A with Sean McAllister and guests at BFI Southbank on 15 September 2015.
Update: A Syrian Love Story is currently available on BBC Four iPlayer.