Before the revolution, I was practicing my trade, which I learned years ago before the revolution. I studied filmmaking and directing in Greece. I started thinking of filming something for Syria. Orwa and I had that dream since day one, and then the revolution started and we decided to pursue the dream, as risky as it may be. It was all a challenge, going to Homs was a challenge, but we made it happen as a team.
Hans Robert Eisenhower
As commissioning editor for ZDF-ARTE, and Deputy Programme Director and Head of Theme Evenings for ARTE, Hans Roberts more than 50 theatrical lengths commissions for TV and Cinema include: Oscar nominated Buena Vista Social Club by Wim Wenders, Oscar-winner Taxi To The Dark Side by Alex Gibney, the Sundance award winners Why We Fight and The House I Live In by Eugene Jarecki, the acclaimed Up The Yangtze by Yung Chang and Mama Africa by Mika Kaurismäki. Hans Robert has also served as director of the Berlin Film Fund and is a member of the European Film Academy, which he helped to create in 1988. After his retirement from ZDF/ARTE Hans Robert is living in Berlin and running the small film-and TV-production company Ventana-Film GmbH., focused on international documentary-films, including cultural and current affairs TV programs.
Orwa Nyrabia graduated from the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts in Damascus 1999 and worked as a columnist at Assafeer Newspaper for 4 years before he started in film. He worked as Assistant Director in high-profile fiction films such as Sacrifices by Oussama Mohammad (Certain Regard Cannes 2002) and played as lead actor in La Porte du soleil of Yousri Nassrallah (Selection Officielle Cannes 2004). Since he co-founded PROACTION FILM, Orwa worked on a number of documentary and fiction films. A graduate of AFIC (INA-Sorbonne 2006), his main start was in the international co-production doc Dolls A Woman from Damascus by Diana El Jeiroudi (Silver Wolf Competition IDFA 2007). Today Orwa continues to produce documentary and fiction films and is working on two in-development projects. As a filmmaker, Orwa made one short documentary, co-directing a fiction short and finishing his feature-length doc Queen of Hearts. Orwa is a co-founder and organizer of DOX BOX International Documentary Film Festival in Syria.
Making The Film
Although we liked the idea of the two protagonists, there was no dramatic arc at first. We weren't sure if we had enough for a longer film, but we decided to take the risk, says producer Orwa Nyrabia. Events overtook the production. By late summer of 2011, the early, heady days of the pro-democracy protests were sliding into full-scale violence as Syrian army forces entered Homs and fighting broke out. We never expected that, a few months into shooting, Basset would become a militia fighter and that Ossama would be detained, says Nyrabia. The harsh reality carved the films dramaturgy. One wishes that the reality would have been less dramatic and that we could have lost the film. Its very painful.