Saturday, November 23, 2013
Omar Amiralay's beautiful short film, A Plate of Sardines (1997), relates his story of how he came to hear of the state of Israel as a boy in 1950. Amiralay, a Syrian documentary filmmaker who died in 2011, narrates the film, which mixes footage of ruins of Quneitra, a Syrian town in the Golan Heights, with dreamscape images from Amiralay's memories. Amiralay's aunt (second still) at once confirms and confounds his memories of a plate of sardines representing the expulsion of his relatives from Israel. Amiralay records pensive images of the empty streets of Quneitra through the eyes of his filmmaker friend Mohammed Malas, who says that "sometimes reality doesn't solve things, but cinema protects them." Watching A Plate of Sardines led me to wonder about future independent films documenting the ongoing conflict in Syria.