Watch: Poetic short film set to Darwish’s “In Damascus”

In Damascus, a new short film by Syrian filmmaker and designer Waref Abu Quba, sets scenes of Damascus to a reading by the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish of his poem of the same name paying tribute to the Arab capital.

The footage, tinted to evoke nostalgia and memory, shows daily life in the formerly peaceful city — its old houses decorated with architecturally distinct wood latticework, its soaring minarets and the grand interiors of the Umayyad mosque.

Background music builds to a slow climax complemented by an excerpted recording of Darwish’s reading. The poet states: “I see my language all of it / on a grain of wheat written / by a woman’s needle …”

Timeless images of the Old City and its ancient architecture give way to time-lapse footage of traffic winding its way through the modern capital.

The current reality of the celebrated city is shown after the video’s brief credits as ominous warplanes fly overhead.

In August, the United Nations estimated that the death toll in Syria had reached nearly 200,000 victims in the three-year-long civil war.

The UN refugee agency UNHCR estimates that 3.2 million Syrians have fled to neighboring countries and North Africa.


Maureen Clare Murphy

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Maureen Clare Murphy is senior editor of The Electronic Intifada.