A Brazilian documentarist enters Syria

IssueOctober 2013
News by Lucca Rossi

In September, PN interviewed Moscow-based journalists Marina Darmaros and Wissam Moukayed, makers of a short documentary film Transition, which exposes the extensive use of cluster bombs by the Syrian regime and the hopelessness of the people living in Azaz camp, in Aleppo.

PN: Why did you decide to make a documentary about Syria?

Marina Darmaros: I’ve been living in Russia for six years, and Wissam for more than seven. We decided to spend money from our own pockets to get inside Syria and make this documentary because we wanted to show the Russian audience the truth about what’s happening in the country. We got tired of watching news in Russia only showing Assad’s propaganda.

PN: How did you get access to Syria?

MD: Wissam is Syrian and was a member of the Syrian Army for 10 years. He’s got contacts with deserters who joined the Free Syrian Army and with members of the Syrian Council, a coalition of Syrian opposition recognised as government by some countries. Access through the borders under the control of the Free Syrian Army was easy.

We visited refugee camps and hospitals in Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, and even Palestine, to talk to Syrian refugees before entering Syria.

PN: Did you have dangerous moments while in the country?

MD: That was my first war coverage. As a freelance journalist, I’ve never had access to any kind of the training experienced reporters from the big media outlets have. When I got there, I realised I wasn’t even psychologically prepared for it.

Ten minutes after crossing the border, we stopped to ask where we could buy petrol. The man started asking questions of our driver and demanded that he show his identification, which he refused to do.

Suddenly four men armed with Kalashnikovs left the other car, pulled our driver from ours and started a harsh conversation. Wissam managed to calm down everybody. In the end, the four men started looking to me, repeating ‘friends, friends’ in English.

PN: What shocked you the most while you were there?

MD: The smell of blood from an entire family killed the night before, the hopelessness in improvised hospitals, since the regime bombarded the official ones, the sound of the bombs day and night, the mosques and apartment buildings destroyed by cluster bombs.

I’d say there was nothing that didn’t shock me, actually. Even kids playing on the streets, fruit vendors and pregnant women. The whole picture shocked me.

Topics: Syria