Trailer: ‘The Story Won’t Die’ Documents the Defiance of the War-Besieged Syrian Art Community
Above work by Tammam Azzam
Perhaps the greatest tragedy of very long wars is that the media and the global populace will tend to hit a point of fatigue, and ultimately move on to other stories. This is surely the case with the ceaselessly horrific Syrian Civil War, which entered its 12th year last month, seems to have no end in sight, and is really nowhere to be found in the daily international headlines. This, despite recent estimates that have put the total death toll so far at more than half a million.
Of course, what is always particularly difficult to grasp, is how do people carry on with their everyday lives while war rages around them, or when they have been displaced from their homes? But the first trailer has just been released for an inspiring new documentary film, the defiantly titled The Story Won’t Die (RaeFilm Studios), which shines a light on a loose community of young artists in attempting to answer that very question. As it opens, we hear one of them explaining, “Luckily I am an artist – so I have a space to use my memories.” And it’s true that through artistic expression, emotional turmoil and tumult is often brought into clearer focus; art helps us to understand and explicate what we’re really feeling during instances of great tragedy.
The doc is from award-winning filmmaker David Henry Gerson, also known for his 2011 short Ultra Violet For Sixteen Minutes, which spotlighted the late Warhol superstar/muse of the title. But where that scene was very much about art as societal provocation, here he delves into it as a method against the madness of war. Or as one artist states it, “I couldn’t resist that temptation to scream against the whole history of Syria, against the whole establishment that is called Syria.”
Scenes of massive protest are cut with images of bombs hitting their targets, and then of utterly, heartbreakingly ruined cityscapes. We’re reminded of the twelve million citizens that have been forced to leave their country and their lives, becoming part of an almost untenable refugee crisis. Naturally, many of those were musicians and visual artists, and they are depicted here as continuing to raise their voices in dissent of the cruel and corrupt Assad regime.
Of course, the timing of The Story Won’t Die could not be more poignant, as just three months ago Russia began its brutal assault on the people and cities of Ukraine. War, sadly, will always be with us. But in Syria, as Gerson’s film shows, art will most definitely not stand by quietly.
The Story Won’t Die opens at LA’s Laemmle Cinema on June 10, followed by New York’s Cinema Village on the 17th, and with a worldwide VOD release on all major platforms on June 21, the latter timed to World Refugee Day.
Above images from top: Omar Imam; Tammam Azzam