Glimpse into Syrian Cinema History

Published March 20th, 2002 - 02:00 GMT

The first achievement realized in the field of the film industry was the foundation of the General Cinema Organization which has been upgrading the level of Syrian feature films since the 1960s, according to the daily Syria Times. 

The GCO was given great momentum following the issuance of a Presidential decree in 1974 which defined new tasks for Syrian cinema in spreading knowledge and culture.  

The GCO has caused a radical shift in Syrian cinema by making Syrian features completely committed to the objectives of Arab people, especially the Palestine question and the Arab Israeli conflict as well as the socio- political changes that took place in the Arab Homeland.  

The organization produced several feature films about the Palestine question and the ordeal of the Palestinians following their expulsion from their indigenous land. These include al Makhduon (Deceived Men) directed by Tawfiq Saleh in 1971 and based on the late Palestinian writer Ghassan Kanafani’s novel (Rijal Fil Shams (Men in the Sun).  

Another film is Kafr Qassem which casts light on the gruesome massacre perpetrated by the Israeli forces against the defenseless Palestinian inhabitants of the town of Kafr Qassem .  

A number of films were produced by the organization dealing with the changes that took place in Syria during the post-independence period and the struggle of the Syrians to win national independence.  

Some films depicted the landslide victory realized by the Syrian and Egyptian armies against the Israeli forces of occupation in 1973.  

An important step on the path of developing Syrian cinema was the launching of the Damascus Film Festival in 1979 which was held at the time under the slogan of Cinema for Liberation. It has become a biennial tradition held to support serious trends in Arab cinema. The launching of the festival was accompanied by the wide participation of Syrian films in Arab and international film festivals and their winning of important prizes –  

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