A well-known and well-loved Syrian playwright, Ghassan Al-Jibai, passed away today. Like many, he had spent several years in prison, for being the free thinker, poet and playwright. He was, like so many fellow Syrian writers of his day - and so many poets around the world - not afraid to rage and to grieve, in fierce honesty. He passed away in Syria, never desiring to leave it, surrounded by his loved ones.
One of his films, A Journey Into Memory, (2006) has really touched me. Not least because it features three men in frank and vulnerable discussion of imprisonment and torture, and the difficulties of reconnecting with life after release. Three Syrian men, former inmates, are on a road-trip to Palmyra.
What strikes me today, watching it in 2022, post-Netflix, is the naturalness of the film. Unpretentious. Unexaggerated. The film offers a softness, gentler and slower than what we have grown accustomed to nowadays, with all the high definition and sensorial intensity. Here, these three men come to share from a very deep and real place. It is in Arabic, with English subtitles, a tribute to humanity at large.