UK | 2015 | 76 mins | English, Arabic, French | Indian Premiere | Director Attending
A Syrian Love Story provides a heart-breaking glimpse into conflicts in the Middle East, looking past the headlines to reveal the human beings involved. When Amer Daoud and Raghda Hassan fell in love, they were serving time in the same Syrian prison. He was a Palestinian freedom fighter, she a revolutionary, and they communicated through a tiny hole between their cells. Upon their release, they got married and started a family. Fifteen years later, director Sean McAllister stumbles across their unusual romance. Raghda is again behind bars, this time for writing a novel deemed too critical of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s administration. McAllister follows the couple for five years, witnessing Raghda’s reunion with Amer and their flight to Lebanon and then on to France, where they find political asylum. Unable to consign her loyalty to Syria to the past, Raghda is haunted by mental illness and the family’s relationships begin to unravel.
Born in Yorkshire, England, in 1965, Sean McAllister left school at 16 to work in a pea-packing factory, before dropping out of employment for the best part of a decade. During this time, he developed an understanding of how easy it is for people to spin and drift—an understanding that has proved central to his documentaries. His works include The Minders (1998), The Liberace of Baghdad (2004), Japan: A Story of Love and Hate (2008) and The Reluctant Revolutionary (2012). “I’m always surprised to witness the brutal honesty of people when they are naked and open in front of your camera,” says Sean. “It is a painstaking process. It takes years to get inside, so that people are not just acting out their lives but using you and a projected audience to help make sense of the world they find themselves in.”