The Syrian Democratic Council

The “Lilon” International Film Festival begins with the participation of Arab and foreign films

Under the slogan “A flower alone does not constitute a garden”, the Lilon International Film Festival opened its first edition in the displacement camps for the people of Afrin, and the opening ceremony was organized in Sardam (al-Asr) camp on Monday, with the participation of a wide range of cultural and popular activities and a number of directors participating with their films in the festival.

Through its multiple messages, the festival aims to integrate cultures and peaceful coexistence together, not the culture of killing pursued by the occupiers of Afrin, which was evident in the festival’s slogan and the speeches delivered at the opening ceremony. The festival received nearly 2,200 films, but the committee in charge of accepting films elected 58 films between short, long narrative and documentary from several countries.


The festival’s goal was achieved

The importance of adopting displacement camps, where more than 7,000 displaced people from the Kurdish city of Afrin, occupied by the Turkish army and its mercenaries, for this kind of festival is being organized on World Peace Day, according to the film director and member of the festival’s administrative committee, Mohialddin Arslan, the festival is away to highlight the issue of Afrin, its displaced people and camp residents in order to send a message that includes the importance of bringing peace to the place of war, and the need for the international community to break its silence about the war crimes that the Turkish state and its extremist factions are committing in Afrin.

Arslan confirms that their goal has been achieved to a large extent, relying on the remarkable participation of international directors with their various films in the festival, as the directors emphasized their great support for Afrin and its displaced people. He expresses by saying: “Afrin, with its culture, tolerant spirit and love for the message of life, embraced all spectrums of Syrian people. It was the best mother for every Syrian who lived in it, so it was targeted for the sake of this culture and this humanitarian message, to face various types of weapons with a culture of art and tolerance, to fight the occupation with a call for cultural dialogue, to launch an international festival in displacement camps and to call for tolerance and peace on the International Peace Day. All of this means that we are proceeding with the resistance that lasted for 58 days with bare chests, against the invaders’ hordes, and their ambitions for people, trees, and even stone.

On January 20, 2018, the Afrin region was subjected to a Turkish military attack, in which dozens of Turkish mercenary factions took part, and occupied the city on March 18 of the same year, and the Turkish occupation caused the forced displacement of about 350,000 civilians from the region in the far northwest of Syria, and nearly 150 thousand displaced people in Al-Shahba canton and the villages of Sherawa, in addition to four camps in that area.

The organizers seek to make this festival an important cultural bridge and a step towards communicating the culture of the hosting people to the peoples of the world, and it is an important opportunity for filmmakers and writers to meet, cross-pollinate ideas, and for artistic convergence that crosses borders to build relationships and enhance cultural exchange to form an important ground for creating relationships on various levels (cultural, artistic , diplomat, political, social) between peoples and states.


The idea and professionalism of photography are standards for film nomination


 The preparations began six months ago through preparing for an official website for the festival on the web and developing plans, ideas, messages and goals to achieve the greatest amount of communication. The director, “Jankin Abdo,” says that we might break the international silence about the occupation of our cities from Afrin to Serekaniye, several committees were formed at each stage of the festival stages  represented by Watching, Translation, Relations, Media and other technical committees, according to Zilan Suleiman, the director and member of the festival’s preparatory committee.

During this period, a circultheater was equipped within Sardam camp and another theater in “Barkhdan” camp, which has been hosting the displaced from Afrin since the beginning of 2018 during the Turkish occupation of their city, the films were translated into Arabic and Kurdish and a song for the festival was prepared in three languages (Kurdish – Arabic – English).

These works are carried out under the roof of Cinema Afrin committee, which is an institution concerned with film production and has several films.

The number of films reached 2,200 films from nearly 150 countries around the world on 08/15/2020, when the door to participate in the festival closed. Director Jankin refers to the criteria that were adopted for selecting films by saying: “Two committees have been formed to select films according to the approved criteria related to the proposed idea, professionalism in photography and the correct outward vision. “The number of selected films, out of 2,200, was limited to only 58 films to be shown at the festival, based on the number of days of resistance by the people of Afrin in the face of the Turkish invasion and the opposition factions affiliated with it in late 2017 against the Syrian region of Afrin, for 58 days.


Directors’ messages salute the struggle of Afrin people


The content of the films varied between films that talk about women and others about technology and its damages to society, in addition to historical films and others that narrate human suffering, migration, displaced children and science fiction. The films will start showing a day after the opening, which falls on September 21, and the winning films will be determined by the jury consisting of seven directors and academics, namely “Baruj Akrai and Hussein Hassan from  Kurdistan region of Iraq, Erika from Mexico, Ali Badr Khan from Egypt, Bendta from Italy, Touraj Aslani from Iran, Abu Bazali from Turkey “Three prizes will be distributed for films and another for the jury.

As a result of the siege conditions and Corona disease, contact with the Preparatory and Arbitration Committee was virtual, and even the messages of international directors were through the presentation of video clips recorded in the festival during the opening ceremony, and others published on the festival’s official website.

The festival lasts for six consecutive days. The opening ceremony included singing and dancing performances by the folkloric art groups of the Culture and Art Movement in Afrin and Al Shahba. In the end, a short film entitled “Kurdê” was shown, the content of which was centered on the character of the Afrin artist, “Bave Salah,” known for his songs, the talents of Bave Salah’s character were introduced, including the talent for acting and his distinguished role in theatrical art.

While the attendees finally expressed their hopes that this festival will be the cultural bridge between most of the peoples of the world, but on their land in the liberated Afrin, and be a reason for changing the international position with regard to Afrin and the rest of the occupied cities for the better, and achieving a return home with international guarantees.

The Lilon International Film Festival activities will continue until the 27th of this month, with selected films screened in Sardam and Barkhdan camps simultaneously. The films that will be shown vary between short films of one minute duration and long films that last for an hour and a half hour, including several foreign and Arab films.