Category: Reviews

The National

Labour of love: Director Sean McAllister reveals heartache behind A Syrian Love Story

In 2009, British filmmaker Sean McAllister planned to shoot a documentary about revolutionary stirrings in Syria, at a time before most his countrymen had heard of – or cared about – what was happening in Damascus.

But after six years of filming, what he ended up with was A Syrian Love Story, a candid record of the experiences of a couple and their children as the civil war erupted and they became refugees in Europe. The couple, Amer Daoud and Raghda Hassan, at first are very much in love but are slowly torn apart as they are haunted by memories from a homeland they can’t forget.

Read the full article on the www.thenational.ae website

Film of the Week

A Syrian Love Story

McAllister here conjures a mosaic of footage which can be variously read as hidden-camera investigation, socio-political treatise, fly-on-the-wall family drama, proto-feminist case study, and (most affectingly) child’s-eye view of adult trauma.

This is a profoundly moving account of two love stories: that between the film’s central couple, Amer and Raghda, who are torn apart by imprisonment and exile; the other being their love for Syria, which casts a long shadow over their lives, their marriage and their children.

See the complete review by Mark Kermode in the Guardian website

Morning Star

A Syrian Love Story

This heart-wrenching film gives an idea of the human cost of seeking asylum in Western Europe

AS WE continue to witness the worst refugee crisis since WWII, this powerful documentary by Sean McAllister puts a human face on the issue as it recounts the personal cost to one Syrian family. When the British film-maker first met Amer in 2009 in Syria, just before the Arab spring, his wife Raghda was a political prisoner while he was caring for their four sons alone. Filmed over the following five years, the film tells the poignant story of how they were torn apart by events and the untold pressures which affected their family and marriage.

See the complete review by Maria Duarte in the Morning Star

The Times

A Syrian Love Story

Sean McAllister’s intimate, achingly poignant documentary couldn’t be more timely.

A Syrian Love Story follows the fates of Amer, his wife Raghda and their three sons. When McAllister first encounters the Syrian family, before the flames of the Arab spring have begun to flicker, Amer is raising his children alone and Raghda is in prison. Her crime? Writing a book about her romance with her husband, which
started behind bars, 20 years before, when they were both incarcerated as political prisoners.

See the complete 4 Star review (subscription required) by Wendy Ide in The Times

Time Out

A Syrian Love Story

Intimate and moving doc, shot over five years, following one family fleeing Syria as refugees

‘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.

See the full review by Trevor Johnston in Time Out [London]

HeyUGuys

A Syrian Love Story

A wonderful, powerful piece of filmmaking

For anyone who has felt outraged by the dehumanisation of refugees across the media, A Syrian Love Story is a welcome tonic. Filmed over 5 years, the film documents the relationship between Raghda and Amer. Ragdha is released from prison after serving time for her activism against the Assad regime in Syria, and this is where the film begins.

See the full review by Nia Childs on the HeyUGuys website

The Hollywood Reporter

A Syrian Love Story

A Syrian Love Story is another remarkable chapter in the English director’s journalistic forays into the Middle East’s hottest hot spots

Here again McAllister plays the role of the (mostly) off-screen reporter who is so thoroughly embedded in the life of his subjects that he seems like a member of the family. Though at first the story is told through Amer’s sad eyes and his halting but poetic English, Raghda eventually is given a voice and emerges as an extraordinary woman in her own right, torn — as Amer perceptively remarks — between being Che Guevara and a mother.

See the complete review by Deborah Young in The Hollywood Reporter

The Independent

A Syrian Love Story

Heartbreaking portrait of a marriage unravelling

The couple, who met in prison, became the subjects of what first seemed like a conventional political documentary. Then, after Raghda’s release, this remarkable film turned into something else. Shot over five years, it became a heartbreaking portrait of a marriage unravelling. It is testament to the trust the subjects place in McAllister that they allow him to document their most intimate, vulnerable moments.

See the full review by Geoffrey McNab on The Independent website