Syria’s Heartache in Return to Homs
Perhaps these days Syria seems even more important than it ever was, with ISIS in Iraq and their intentions of cutting across geographical borders to create a sectarian state for the Sunnis in both countries. The Region is so complicated, I can’t imagine what George W. Bush was thinking when he decided to step in and upset the delicate balances… But I’m not a political writer, never will be, also not a conflict journo. What I know about, where I get my info, is all about the movies.
At an amazing event in Florence, the Middle East Now Film Festival, I watched Talal Derki’s Return to Homs and since then, I have not looked at a headline from Syria without a pang of sadness and deep loss. That’s why I think cinema can change the world, because it changes me, every day. Below, a few thoughts from my Huffington Post piece on the film.
I’m not sure why but Janis Joplin’s lyrics from “Me and Bobby McGee” play in my mind whenever anyone speaks of the Arab Spring: “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose, Nothing don’t mean nothing honey if it ain’t free, now now.”
Haunting, but perhaps because Joplin herself knew exactly what price is attached to that elusive word or even realized, through her own struggles, that in our search for it, the Utopian concept of freedom, we forget how important comfort, peace and routine are in our human daily lives…
These days, the results of the revolutions that started in 2011 in Tunisia, then spread to Egypt and many more countries, finally to erupt in Syria, still haven’t achieved freedom. What the people demanded is not what the people got, with Tunisia tethering on Salafism, the Army running the show in Egypt and Syria — well, that’s where Talal Derki’s apocalyptic documentary Return to Homs comes in. Syria has become a wasteland, physically and emotionally, humanly forgotten yet constantly talked about in the news, a devastatingly real representation of the phrase “hell on earth.”
It’s as if we’re all watching the daily show of a developing catastrophe, one too gigantic for us to believe, and so we tune out, turn off and try to reason that it’s perhaps media propaganda… I know I felt that way, until Derki’s film set me straight.