Remember Syria’s city of Aleppo? Because you should have never forgotten.
I actually feel little need to write up this post, largely because there is not much for me to write that is not said in the film that you will be watching shortly. As it is often the case, words are a creation of convenience and tend to say very little.
However, it is an editorial decision that such a powerful piece deserves a lead-in even though the author is conscious that no lead commentary will adequately prepare the viewer for what is in store.
The horror of Aleppo remains real and live. The image of atrocities, is graphic, genuine and appalling. As Assad regime forces supported by Russia continue to pummel opposition-held Aleppo following the de facto collapse of Geneva talks, there are few words that can describe the horror that are lives of the people who remain in the city.
Similarly, there are few words that can describe the sacrifice and suffering of White Helmets, the politically-neutral civil defence teams whose volunteers dedicate, and often sacrifice, their own lives to saving their fellow Syrians who remained trapped in the horror that is today’s Aleppo, regardless of their political, tribal or religious affiliation. Most often under unimaginably difficult circumstances.
The film you are going to watch was produced in 2014, at a time when the White Helmets were not specific targets of regime bombing. As we approach mid-2016, the White Helmets have been fiercely and specifically attacked by the regime and the Russians, in violation of laws and customs of war and, more importantly, basic human dignity. This has not changed them in any way as they remain first responders on the front line of destruction in Aleppo and throughout the divided Syria. This post is, therefore, another testament to a rare bright spot in the Syrian conflict.
This short film was part of the official selection at the Festival de Cannes in 2015. Amjad Wardeh is an established Syrian artist and author from Damascus, currently exiled in North America.