“This movie is a lot about kids. It’s a younger generation that was born, and in their first steps, they’re going into the war,” Oscar-nominated director Evgeny Afineevsky says, reflecting on his Syrian Civil War documentary Cries from Syria. “Their first toys are guns. It’s amazing, their spirit, these kids. This was a huge inspiration for me, all these amazing kids whom you saw in the movie.”
Comprised of hundreds of hours of war footage taken by Syrian activists and citizen journalists, the Sundance-premiering doc is a brutal account of a five-year conflict told from an inside perspective, a wake-up call and an immersion in the experience of those confronted by the endless horrors of war, and an educational experience for those who are, through no fault of their own, ignorant about the nature of the Syrian crisis.
As Afineevsky told Deadline’s Anthony D’Alessandro, following an Awardsline screening of the HBO doc, it was out of “some kind of responsibility as a filmmaker” that the director took on the project. “It was [out of] some kind of responsibility as a filmmaker to go learn about them, to take their stories and bring it to the world, so the world can hear their voices, hear exactly what happened. Why [Syrian citizens] are all fleeing their own homes and trying to survive,” he said. “Because as you saw, in their own country, the choices are limited: To die in the presence of Assad, to die from chemical weapons that are happening everyday, to die from ISIS or from the bombings. They’re trying to survive, they’re looking for shelter.”
While the situation in Syria is multifaceted and complex, Afineevsky gave his take on a solution. “Every interview that I was doing with the kids, I was asking, ‘What do you want the world to know or do for you, the Syrian people?’” It was two things, he recalled. “Get the f—k out of Syria. Everybody needs to leave and allow Syrians to fight with their own enemy, that is Bashard al-Assad—or help us to bring peace.”
To hear more from Deadline’s conversation with the Cries from Syria director, click above.