Silvered Water

Directed by Ossama Mohammed and Wiam Bedirxan

Shot by a reported “1,001 Syrians” according to the filmmakers, SILVERED WATER, SYRIA SELF-PORTRAIT impressionistically documents the destruction and atrocities of the civil war through a combination of eye-witness accounts shot on mobile phones and posted to the internet, and footage shot by Bedirxan during the siege of Homs. Bedirxan, an elementary school teacher in Homs, had contacted Mohammed online to ask him what he would film, if he was there. Mohammed, working in forced exile in Paris, is tormented by feelings of cowardice as he witnesses the horrors from afar, and the self-reflexive film also chronicles how he is haunted in his dreams by a Syrian boy once shot to death for snatching his camera on the street.


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  • ★★★★½ review by J.W. Hendricks on Letterboxd

    One of the most important pieces of cinema I have seen or ever will see.

  • ★★★★ review by Connor Denney on Letterboxd

    The camera's ability to share knowledge and images of events that otherwise would have been buried by a veil of secrecy makes this a most difficult watch, replete with countless deaths, both on- and offscreen, and enough violence and brutality to nearly make me regret rewatching this, even taking its poetic richness into account. The film structures itself as something of a conversation between the two filmmakers, and even more elementally, between the dozens of amateur filmmakers whose images, originally posted to social media sites, allow the likely unprecedented access that Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait has to the horrors occurring in Syria in the early 2010s. The structure is not without its issues: by melding these images into sectioned buckets the way it does, the film comes close to aestheticizing violence, but even after a repeat viewing, every strike is just as painful to watch as before, making this one of the last films I would take to task for normalizing violence. If anything, this rewatch gave me an increased appreciation for Cameraperson, which, though less emotionally affecting, is a bit more complex and unexpected in its shared understanding of the human condition.

  • ★★★★½ review by Connor Denney on Letterboxd

    Silvered Water takes a unique approach to filmmaking in its use of the points of view of many individuals affected by the crisis in Syria. The film uses video filmed on cell phones and posted online and connects these short clips into a cohesive documentary that forms its thesis through conversation in two ways.

    The first is through the editing together of these clips themselves. By virtue of having come from such a wide number of sources, we are able to get a glimpse at the current state of Syria so broad that most films would hardly come close to this one in terms of scope. The repetition of certain shots (like one of a teenaged prisoner being tortured) stand dangerously on the precipice of shock cinema, so repulsive that they nearly remove the humanity out of the shot and reduce the image to an object of provoking. What keeps them from crossing this thin line is the poetic way in which they are repeated rhythmically (yet not too often) throughout the film, almost as a reminder of the horrors Syrians face. The film emphasizes these images because they are the most important ones, the images that show us the extent to which Syrian oppressors have dehumanized the citizens of what another 2014 documentary referred to as “our terrible country.”

    The second is through a more literal conversation between two filmmakers. The two artists speak eloquently about the problems facing Syria and their own experiences recording video for the film in a way that reaffirms the human spirit in the face of adversity and strife. The impossible odds stacked against the creation of this film make their musings all the more nostalgic as the film mourns the atrocities that have attempted to break down Syrians. Yet it is the artfulness of this film that is the ultimate triumph, as Syria’s vicious environment was still the birthplace of such a work of art as this film.

    Though Silvered Water may come across as an overtly political film (which it is, in a sense), it is really about the human experience. It draws from so many sources in order to create a film that is truly universal within its scope.

  • ★★★★ review by David Jenkins on Letterboxd

    It ain't Godard, but it'll do 'till he gets here.

  • ★★★★★ review by clement_i on Letterboxd

    Images are unbelievable, it gives me a new view concerning the story of Syrian conflict.

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