Orient Net meets Syrian student who won Turkish Green Crescent award

Orient Net meets Syrian student who won Turkish Green Crescent award

Huzaifa (on the left), and Beshr (on the right) co-directed the award winning short film
Orient Net - Yasser Ashkar
Date: 2016-07-25 13:58
“Where Were You?”, a short film co-directed by university students Beshr Idibi from Damascus, and Huzaifa Asim from Sri Lanka, recently won a first place award in an annual film competition held by the Turkish Green Crescent. 

This year’s international short video competition titled "Let’s Talk About It, You Are Not Alone" was held within the scope of the Drug Addiction Awareness for Adults Project  (DAWAP).   

After fleeing from the violence in Syria three years ago, Beshr, now 22 years old, went by way of Lebanon to Cairo before ending up in Turkey as a student at Sehir University of Istanbul majoring in cinema and television with a minor in politics.

Like most Syrian refugees, Beshr says he had to overcome many obstacles to get to where he is today.

Orient Net spoke to Beshr about the inspiration for the film and his future plans.

Q: How did you get into the competition? 

A: We saw the announcement for it on the daily notice bulletin at the university a couple of days before the deadline. So it was like a challenge to do it within 5 days. We were not that interested in the subject, but as we discussed it I remembered the story of a neighbor we had in Syria. He was my brother’s age and had fallen in with some bad friends who used drugs. He was eventually found dead from a drug overdose in the basement of his apartment building. It was a shock for us but I was not involved. Now when I thought about it, I realized that he was like me and my brothers and we could have found ourselves in his position because in Syria there was no hope for any us for a bright future. My friend liked the idea of telling his story so I started working on a script. I wrote it myself, then we set out to find actors and a location for filming it. We spent the entire day and night before the competition deadline filming and editing the video so it could be submitted on time.

Q: Where did you get the camera to film with?

A: We would have preferred to use the university’s professional camera, but it was not available on such short notice -- so we had to use our own.

Q: Were you surprised to win first place with such a last minute entry?

A: We didn’t really expect to win because we didn’t hear anything from the organization for a while. So we started showing it to our colleagues and teachers. Some of them liked it, and some didn’t. Later we were pleasantly surprised to hear the news that we had won for Turkey.

Q: Why Turkish Green Crescent?

A: It’s not like we made a movie and then went looking for a festival. The Green Crescent was having a competition, so we entered it.

Q: Was the film’s main character Syrian or Turkish?

A: Actually he is Egyptian.

Q: The location you chose was beautiful. Where is it?

A: It is the back yard of our university.

Q: Do you know Turkish?

A: Not well, but the university classes are taught in English so I know enough to manage so far.

Q: Is drug abuse a major problem in Turkey?

A: I did not know that Turkey had such a problem until last year when I saw a post advertising help with drug and alcohol addiction. When I saw the photos I wondered if they were from Turkey, or someplace else. I was able to find out that there are places where it is happening in Istanbul that foreigners and tourists do not normally see.

Q: How do you feel about the status of Syrians in Turkey?

A: I am not that happy with the government’s stand towards the status of Syrians−but community wise, they are supportive. For me to win in the name of Turkey helps the image of Syrians in other countries like those in Europe. The small community I am part of here is so supportive. My Turkish friends from the university were excited to tell their parent’s that a Syrian friend had won an award. Some of them have projects about Syrians. After the coup attempt began I received many messages and cautions from my Turkish friends who care about me and support me.

Q: What is your vision for the future? 

A: My aim is to help create a uniquely Syrian cinema in the Middle East. In the Arab world many do not consider cinema to be an art. I want to be involved in projects that are unique and do not imitate Hollywood, or anyone else. We need to have our own cinematic expressions that we can use as tools for expressing ourselves and our suffering. I support the Syrian revolution and daily I see, as many others do, the massacres and the brutality−but noone focuses on how people are still surviving and finding ways to live. People in general have stopped  sympathizing with us because  they see the same negative images being shown every day. I want a cinema that will present the positive aspects of being Syrian inside and outside Syria.
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