Saeed Al Batal, Ghiath Ayoub

Syria, Lebanon, France, Germany, Qatar, 2018 / 120 min / Arabic OV with English or French subt. (Arabic OV with EN or FR subt.) / Documentary

The self-portrait of a generation striving to tell its own story from inside the Syrian war.

Saeed is a young cinema lover trying to teach other young people in Eastern Ghouta, Syria the rules of filmmaking, but the reality they face is too harsh to follow rules. His friend Milad is in nearby Damascus under control of the regime, seemingly a world away, studying Fine Arts at university. Milad decides to leave the capital and join Saeed and the Syrian revolution in besieged Douma, where they set up a local radio station and a recording studio. They film life in Douma for more than four years, from the initial euphoria at the early days of the Arab Spring up to the distress and disenchantment which have settled over the years of civil war. A look at the reality of life under siege but also the desire for art and freedom.

"With Still Recording, I want to translate the archive and the generation’s story into a work of cinema that intersects our experiences with the experiences of everyone watching it, regardless of what kind of war anyone fights in.” Directors statement by Ghiath Ayoub


Sat 09/03 21:00 Ciné Utopia ARABIC OV with EN subt. Public
Sun 10/03 19:30 Ciné Utopia ARABIC OV with FR subt. Public
Thu 14/03 14:00 Cinémathèque ARABIC OV with EN subt. Public

“Saeed Al Batal and Ghiath Ayoub use the Syrian Civil War to show the importance of making films as documentary evidence. […] The importance and methods of keeping a record of events is the lesson being taught at the City of Douma Coordinating Committee media office, where Saeed is telling his students his favourite quote: “The image is the last line of defence against time”. […] What follows is a real-life horror, images captured of a civil war in which many of those who wielded a camera have died. Fourteen dead documentarians are named in the end credits of Still Recording. The film is an ode to the work of these photographers as much as it is a document on what is happening. Often, it’s hard to know what’s happening, as one day of destruction looks much like any other. Consequently, it’s not the war that creates the most powerful moments, but rather when we see people’s everyday resilience, such as men using cattle feed to make bread”. Kaleem Aftab, Cineeuropa, 14/09/2018

  • Special Mention of the Testimony on Politics Jury, Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival, 2018 (Czech Republic)
  • Best International Film, Valdivia International Film Festival, 2018 (Spain)
  • Special Mention – Fair Play Cinema Award, Venice Film Festival, 2018 (Italy)
  • FIPRESCI Award, Venice Film Festival, 2018 (Italy)
  • Audience Award, Venice International Critics’ Week, 2018 (Italy)
  • International Award for Best Technical Contribution for Editor Qutaiba Barhamji, Venice Film Festival, 2018 (Italy)
  • Vivere da sportivo il fair-play al cinema Award Venice Film Festival, 2018 (Italy)
  • Edipo Re Award, Venice Film Festival, 2018 (Italy)
Cast & Credits
Saeed Al Batal, Ghiath Ayoub
Abed AlRahman, Saeed Al Batal, Rafat Bearam, Ghith, Beram, Milad Amin, Ghiath Ayoub, Tim Siofi
Pierre Armand
Bidayyat for Audiovisual Arts
Films de Force Majeure, Blinker FilmProduktion
Pascale Ramonda

Born in 1988 in Tartus, Syria, Saeed Al Batal is a citizen journalist, photographer and filmmaker. He has received training in photography and news reporting. He worked as a reporter for various radio stations, including NPR and Denmark Radio, and wrote articles on Syrian current affairs for agencies and institutions worldwide. He is one of the founders of an online gallery entitled “Sam Lenses” and the Humans of Syria project.

Ghiath Ayoub is a filmmaker and visual artist born in Yabrud, Syria in 1989. In 2013, he graduated from the faculty of Fine Art at the University of Damascus. A videographer and sound recordist with directing and producing experience in Syria and Lebanon, Ayoub has worked with local and international NGOs, teaching visual communication and art therapy to refugee children in Lebanon. He has also been involved with numerous non-profit organisations, such as Humans of Syria, producing graphic design work and short films that have been featured on websites and in exhibition spaces around the world. He is the co-founder of a number of open spaces across Beirut.

  • 2018 – Still Recording (documentary)