Syrian director and producer Diana El Giroudi has spent 12 years in “The Republic of Silence”, her indecisive obsolete documentary, perhaps best described as a personal video diary, depicting the unrest in Syria from the outside. This extensive non-linear work spans between Syria and his current home in Berlin and the plight of his partner Orwa Nairabiya [artistic director of Amsterdam’s IDFA documentary festival] Those who were detained in their own country are divided into chapters. It is also manifested as a free-flowing mosaic of fragments and memories, photos and archive footage which makes it interesting beyond the gravity of its content.
In Venice, where the “Republic of Silence” premiered outside the competition, El Giroudi spoke. Diversity How he crossed his path through personal and practical to shape his bold experimental narrative. Quotes.
How did you put the ‘Republic of Silence’ together?
I started with writing first. When you do this you have a whole world of options that you must compress. Then I started researching my own footage there was a lot of visual material, and I recorded a lot of sound. I see it as a part of music: it doesn’t have to be just an instrument to compose something like that. And I like composition.
Simply put, I see it as an exile movie. But there is more to it than that. What persuaded you to make it?
What inspired me? So much. When I started writing this movie [shortly before the Syrian civil war started] It was the beginning of a very intense period in my life. And going forward, a lot of things were boiling inside me; There was a lot of anger; There was a lot of bitterness; There was a lot of pain; There was a lot of damage you could say that filmmaking is a way to rearrange things, so they may be understandable, but it’s so that you can calm down. You can digest all the intensity around you and make you feel it.
Do you agree that the ‘Republic of Silence’ is related to deportation and identity?
This is a very difficult question because it depends on the audience. Some people who have seen it read stories of deportation, some say it is a personal story, and some say it is a political story. So it resonates with people of different levels. It could be a movie about identity. Definitely. Be it political identity, national identity, or women’s identity, or the identity of any group. But for me it’s a chain of human events. I’ve always been fascinated by the life of several things in parallel.
So tell me more about how you shape it.
After writing and developing treatment. I put together a crew of a photographer, a sound engineer and an editor. I wanted a woman to be by my side in the editing room because we would be editing together (I am an editor myself).
We filmed in four sessions for a total of three years. Then I cut Katja [Dringenberg]Editor, we started the editing process in October 2019. We will have our first session and then we will talk and rewrite. I also had a mentor who started with me when I was writing at the beginning. Because I needed someone who would help me shape it and tell me if I was doing things extra. It continued during editing. There was also a lot of writing during the editing.
And that process took longer than I thought because there was so much footage and so many languages.
But I think the structure of the film was assembled during the first third of the editing. That’s when we realized we were going to do chapters, and it would be a non-linear description.
When and how did you decide to get it out?
Okay, there was one thing where I had to throw away a lot of things that I wanted to include. But the moment it happened was when I saw the picture. It became clear that: Yes! This is the structure.