Glasgow hails the Queens of Syria
Yasmin Fedda at the UK premiere of Queens of Syria
Yasmin Fedda’s Queens of Syria had its UK premiere at the Glasgow Film Festival this weekend, playing to a sold-out crowd at the Glasgow Film Theatre.
In the award-winning documentary, London-based film-maker Fedda tells the story of Syrian refugee women living in Jordan who come together to perform a unique version of Euripedes’ classic Greek tragedy The Trojan Women. (See more about the film in our British Films Directory.)
The film is supported by British Council as part of a broad programme of events, exhibitions and workshops designed to give a voice to those affected by conflict and engage audiences around the world on the role of arts and culture for resilience and recovery in places of crisis.
The film follows the women – none of whom have acted before – in the seven weeks of rehearsals and coming to terms with their own personal connections to the ancient text, which draws on themes of conflict and displacement.
Fedda says it was important to film nearly every day with the women as they prepared the play – she ended up with 80 hours of footage. “I was particularly interested in being in the space and seeing how things developed. I became part of the furniture but also part of the dynamic. They quickly opened up to me…. We didn’t know what stories people would share so I wanted to be there the whole time.”
She adds, “The play in the end is a combination of an ancient script and their stories,. They felt empowered by it because they were part of the process.”
Now the film brings their stories to more audiences than could possibly see the play. “I hope the film can live on and their stories can live on with difference audiences. I hope the film is a way to share that further,” adds Fedda, whose past films include A Tale of Two Syrias and Breadmakers.
Queens of Syria had its world premiere at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival in November, where it won the Black Pearl award for Best Director From The Arab World.
The film’s next festival screening will be at the Jameson Dublin Film Festival in March. The film will also be shown at British Council-organised screenings across the globe in the next two years.
Georgina Paget, one of the documentary’s producers, is also hoping to get a contemporary adaptation of The Trojan Women brought to the big screen, with some of the refugee women from the play involved (in collaboration with Palestinian company Philistine Film). The Trojan Women Project also hopes to stage the play again in Jordan and abroad, and to create a spinoff project for young refugees to stage Oliver!.
For more information on the film, visit http://www.queensofsyria.com/