Approaching Syria’s turmoil through art

In order to never forget, one must continually tell a story, and continually find new ways to tell it Stephen Applebaum spoke to the artists examining Syria’s civil war 11 years after it began

<p>A photomontage of Goya’s ‘Third of May’ by Tammam Azzam</p>

A photomontage of Goya’s ‘Third of May’ by Tammam Azzam

There have been many outstanding documentaries made about the turmoil in Syria, such as Last Men in Aleppo, The White Helmets, For Sama, The Cave and City of Ghosts. Consequently, overfamiliarity is one of the biggest hurdles facing filmmakers who want to engage an audience with stories about a conflict that is now, shockingly in its eleventh year, and being overshadowed in the news by the war in Ukraine – events not unconnected given Russia’s brutal military involvement in both countries. The challenge, then, is to find an angle that feels fresh.

The American actor and filmmaker David Henry Gerson shows how to do it in his feature documentary debut, The Story Won't Die, which approaches events in Syria since the start of the revolution in 2011, through the work and words of artists now living in exile in France, Germany and the Netherlands.

This is not the first time that he has found a new way to explore what is far from virgin territory on screen. In 2016, he won a Student Academy Award with All These Voices, a short narrative film about a traumatic encounter between a young Nazi soldier and a company of actors who have survived the Holocaust, influenced by his interest in Primo Levi.

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