Syria, Here and Elsewhere

In 1970 French filmmaker Jean Luc Godard was commissioned by Palestinian political group Al Fatah to shoot a documentary intended to celebrate the “victory” (as the film was originally supposed to be called) of the Palestinian uprising.
Yet, the uprising ended up being defeated, and so were the aspirations of the film.
Godard went back to France and waited for more than five years before releasing Ici et Ailleurs (Here and Elsewhere, 1976):  a peculiar mix between an initial sense of impending victory of the uprising and its actual failure; between the place where things happen and the place where things are consumed, and therefore turned into memories and nostalgia to long for.
Godard’s “Here and elsewhere”, together with Rossellini, Zavattini, Deleuze, Daney, and the works of all those who reflected upon realism critically and aesthetically have been my inspiration when writing the essay “Making Real-Time Drama”; on Syria’s TV production in a time of unrest, where those who produce culture are both witnesses and protagonists, storytellers and participants to the story they tell.
What is realism in a time of unrest?
How do we make sense of events that are still unfolding?
What does it mean to produce culture in the context of an ongoing conflict?
How do Syrian cultural producers  attempt at creating their here and elsewhere?

“Making Real-Time Drama: The Political Economy of Cultural Production in Syria’s Uprising,” is the result of my residency at The Annernberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, hosted by Marwan M. Kraidy in the framework of his PARGC project.

The paper is available for free download here.


Thanks to the wonderful team at PARGC who has made this publication possible, and a special thanks to Samer Radwan, the author of  the TV series “al-Wilada min al-khasira”, and the other wonderful Syrians who have always been ready to help and give feedback and comments.



A scene from al-Wilada min al-Khasira, season 3 (Ramadan 2013)