With the civil war in Syria gradually approaching its endgame, there’s going to be a huge amount of work to do in terms of rebuilding both the infrastructure and a fragmented society. Riven with conflicts, both with the Assad government and daesh, it’s likely to be a slow process. The crisis has been covered extensively in documentaries, including Last Man in Aleppo, The White Helmets and Return to Homs. Philippe Van Leeuw new narrative feature, Insyriated, focusses on the human toll.
After coming from nothing, Oum Yazan (Hiam Abbas) has no intention of abandoning her home. Despite being under-siege in her Damascus apartment block and her husband being stuck on the other side of time, she’s not leaving. She’s determined to keep her family safe, notwithstanding the regular bombardments, snipers in the street and roving packs of male hunters. Along with a neighbour (Diamand Bou Abboud), her maid (Juliette Navis) and extended family, they must survive over a 24-hour period.
Almost the entirety of Insyriated is set in one single apartment, which makes it feel almost like a play. However, there’s nothing theatrical about the grim reality the family find themselves in. Whilst most tales of Syria focus on the fighting, daesh or the refugees, Van Leeuw takes an extraordinary domestic situation and adds in everyday elements. This is what makes Insyriated so tense and powerful. Whilst it might be an extreme situation, it feels frighteningly real.
Insyriated is in cinemas from Friday 8 September.