A Syrian Love Story: Director's Q&A

UK director Sean McAllister, known for his films chronicling tumultous contemporary history like The Reluctant Revolutionary (2012) and The Liberace of Baghdad (2005), joined us to discuss his seminal 2015 documentary film A Syrian Love Story (the film picked up the Grand Jury Prize at Sheffield Doc/Fest 2015).

The film tells of the relationship between couple Amer and Ragda. Amer met Ragda when both were locked up in a Syrian jail for speaking out against an oppressive regime. Fifteen years and four sons later, filmmaker Sean McAllister comes into their lives, as Amer is waiting for Ragda, who has once again been imprisoned. When she is unexpectedly released, the family is overjoyed - they need her, particularly their three year-old son Bob.

McAllister and his subjects' lives become irrevocably intertwined when McAllister himself is jailed, and footage of the family is confiscated. Amer and Ragda must flee overnight to Lebanon, with nothing but their children. McAllister follows their story over five turbulent years as they struggle to find their feet as refugees; Ragda in particular can't bear to be away from Syria in its hour of greatest need. As they watch Syria descend into chaos, they struggle to repair their troubled relationship.

In this Q&A session, Sean talks about the challenges of making the film and bringing it to audiences. He also sets out his unique way of working: entirely independently and without a crew where possible. We also warmly welcomed a very special guest, Amer, to take questions from the audience and talk about this very personal story, what the film means to him, and his hopes for the future.

Related links:
A Syrian Love Story

Posted on Mon 21 Sept 2015.