With a string of socially oriented features, Syrian cinema has moved recently into the forefront of Arab film production. And one might add neo-realist “street films” en vogue again throughout the Arab world, if entries at international fests are any indication. Mohammed Malas’ “Dreams of a City” is a prime example of this trend. Pic is impressive as a debut feature. (Variety, May 1984)
Content When his father dies, Dib, his younger brother and their mother (Yasmine Khlat) move away from their hometown Quneitra to Damascus. The mother’s despotic father reluctantly takes them in and tries to force the mother to remarry. Overwhelmed by the magic of the city, Dib wants to discover everything and is full of dreams. His daily life is shaped by insults and punishments however. Dib grows up against a backdrop of the political upheavals of the 1950s (the end of the military dictatorship in Syria and the nationalization of the Suez Canal, Nasser’s taking of power in Cairo, Egyptian and Syrian unification in 1958) and loses his childish illusions in the face of such violence and brutality. The dreams of the city prove to be a nightmare. Mohammad Malas’ partly autobiographical debut film marked the transition to auteur cinema in Syria.
DVD-Info Mohamad Malas, Syria 1984, color, 123 min, Arabic subtitles: English synopsis, credits, director’s biography PAL, region free
Awards Carthage Film Festival: Tanit d'Or, 1985 Berlin International Film Festival: Interfilm Award - Honorable Mention, 1985 Valencia Festival of Mediterranean Cinema: Golden Palm, 1985
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