Matthew Van Dyke made headlines when he was captured in Libya during the Arab Spring, freed himself during a jailbreak while others were claiming he was a journalist, and then quickly went back to freedom fighting for the cause. In this short doc, he picks up a camera instead of a gun to give a human face to the Syrian revolution.
How long did you spend on the ground in Syria?
I spent approximately a month on the ground in Syria making this film.
How did you find the two subjects of your film?
Mowya’s unit was guarding the building I was staying in and we became friends and occasionally roommates. Nour was initially helping me with the film as a fixer (taking me places and translating for me), but I soon realized that she was a star and began to film her.
Do many people speak English there, or were you lucky to find them?
Not many people speak English in Syria. I was very fortunate to find Mowya and Nour for this film so that I didn’t need to use subtitles.
Will Syria ever recover, or will this generation be too scarred by this war?
The Syrian Revolution will continue for years. If the revolution fails completely, then there will be tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of Syrians living as permanent refugees in neighboring countries and security issues in Syria for years. If the Assad regime falls, Syria’s future will be at first difficult but in the long-term far brighter than it ever was under Assad.
You made quite a name for yourself as a freedom fighter in Lybia. Do you now consider yourself a journalist? Were you fighting with the Syrians portrayed in this film?
I am still a revolutionary and freedom fighter. This film is part of the war, but strategically using other means than a gun. The Syrian Revolution desperately needs the support of the international community, from both governments and private donors. I made this film to help change public opinion around the world and increase international support for the revolution.
I did not fight while making this film because I made a public commitment to not fight during that particular trip, but I did do some military advising of rebels while in Syria. I have not ruled out fighting in Syria in the future if that becomes the best way that I can serve the revolution.
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