2018, Fri, Jan 19

Sacrifices (Sunduq al-Dunya)

D: Ossama Mohammed, Syria / France 2002, 113 minutes, Arabic OV with English subtitles

Filmstill from Sacrifices (Ossama Mohammed)

Filmstill from Sacrifices (Ossama Mohammed)

A fantastic and visually captivating cinematic fable, Sacrifices reflects on how violence and power legitimize themselves, producing rituals and a vocabulary to perpetuate themselves. It portrays the life of a large family held together by the absolute power of its patriarch, the grandfather, who fertilized the land, started the family, built the house and planted a large tree around which their lives revolve. The film opens as the grandfather is dying, and the family surrounds him in anguish and uncertainty. Life begins with death, young men are born as the patriarch expires, and fathers and heroes come back from the war only to dissolve into mud. Selected at 2002 Cannes Film Festival's Un Certain Regard.

Ossama Mohammed graduated from VGIK in 1979, where he studied at the Laboratory of Igor Talankin. His diploma film was the short documentary Step by Step (Khutwa Khutwa). He completed his first fiction feature Stars in Broad Daylight (Nujum al-Nahar) in 1988. The title refers to Igor Talankin’s film with the same title. Deemed to be the most scathing critique of contemporary Syrian society trapped in the iron grip of the Ba‘th regime, the film has never been allowed a public screening in Syria. Internationally it earned the filmmaker great critical praise. His films, Sacrifices (Sunduq al-Dunya, 2002) and Silvered Water (Ma’ al-Fadda, 2014) were shown at Cannes Film Festival. After a compelling speech in support of the pacifist insurrection in Syria in 2011, he was forced into political exile in France, where he lives presently.