Fri 18 Aug 0400 - Thu 01 Jan 1970
Dir. Philippe Van Leeuw, France, Belgium, 85 mins, 2017
Arabic with English subtitles
Winner of the Berlin Panorama Audience Award, Philippe Van Leeuw’s gripping drama, Insyriated, revolves around a mother of three who is trapped inside her our house whilst her city is under siege.
Confined to her home as the city around her is reduced to rubble, Oum Yazan (Hiam Abbass) takes comfort in the familiarity of household routines. The streets below are a war zone, with a barricaded doorway providing the only protection from the threat of deadly bombs and sniper fire. One day, an ominous knock on the door signals that their time in hiding is almost up. And when the world outside finally bursts in, Oum Yazan is forced to make a terrible sacrifice in order to protect those she loves. Executed with gut-punch realism and formal flair, this chilling chamber piece digs deep into the headlines to expose the raw human experiences beneath. Tense and immersive, it is a powerful and timely portrait of the everyday fight for survival in war-torn Syria.
Even though all the violence takes place off screen, Van Leeuw pulls no punches showing its effects in close-ups, where the acting expresses the unspeakable horror. Virginie Surdejs lighting gives an eerie limbo glow to the locked but all-too-penetrable apartment and highlights the lined faces and scarred bodies. In the background is a constant soundtrack of low-flying helicopters, gunfire and exploding shells, sometimes distant, sometimes very close at hand.
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER