This riveting doco, both intimate and raw, follows a pro-democracy activist couple and their four children over five turbulent years from imprisonment by the Al-Assad regime, pre-Arab Spring, to asylum in France.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2016
“As refugees flee from the Syrian conflict in their thousands, this intimate doc captures the experiences of a single family battered by truly daunting circumstances. Before the outbreak of the civil war, filmmaker Sean McAllister encountered husband Amer and infant son Bob, hoping that wife and mother Raghda – a pro-democracy activist – would return from a brutal prison term. International pressure prompted her release, but that proves to be just the start of an odyssey which sees McAllister himself briefly jailed, and the family fleeing via Lebanon to a new start in the West.
Filmed over a five-year period, A Syrian Love Story presents us first with the gnawing anxiety of life under the ruthless Al-Assad regime, then the fresh challenges of a fractious, painful exile where damaged minds take time to heal, before we finally see the household become distant observers to the destruction of their homeland and the deaths of many friends. That a loving family can carry something positive from this harrowing trajectory is a tribute to their courage and forbearance, but also to McAllister’s compassionate resilience in standing by them.” — Trevor Johnston, Time Out