Tense and harrowing, Insyriated immerses you in a Damascus apartment under siege from bombing, snipers and personal violence.
The apartment is a refuge for a disparate cluster led by matriarch Oum Yazan (Hiam Abbas). She lives with her elderly father in law, three children and housekeeper Delhani (Juliette Navis) and has given refuge to her daughter’s boyfriend and young neighbours Halima (Diamond Bou Abboud) and Abou Monzer (Mohsen Abbas) and their baby whose apartment upstairs has been bombed. The young couple plan to leave that night but the fates of all are threatened as bombing cuts roads and power and a sniper targets the building parking lot.
Set entirely in the apartment, we understand quickly how perilous life is there. There are heavy bars on the doors, Oum Yazan’s husband has not come home because of roadblocks and can’t be contacted and there is fear every time there is a knock on the door. The camera roves from room to room, following the interactions that are banal and also critically important.
Central to the story are Oum Yazan and Halima and it is their quiet resolve and immense resilience that shows us most clearly what is really at stake. There are harrowing scenes and I had to meditate on the heroism of some of the male characters so I didn’t become lost in my fury at the monstrousness of others.
Just as I had clarity reading an exchange today on social media from a man with direct experience who equated child sexual abuse with homosexuality and then with marriage (in)equality, I needed to be just as clear of the fallacy of believing that sexual violence equates with masculinity and so with all men. It doesn’t, although it’s tempting to have that gut reaction when you see the damage it causes. It is working tirelessly together with equal non-gendered responsibility that is the key.
And in my safe and comfortable cinema seat I was able to muse on this as 14,000km away people fight for survival.
Have you seen this film? Let me know what you thought in the comments below.