Syrian filmmaker Orwa Nyrabia
Following the arrest and subsequent disappearance of Syrian filmmaker Orwa Nyrabia, many global film industries have been expressing their concern over the incident.
Nyrabia, best known for his feature length documentary Queen of Hearts
and co-founding the DOX BOX International Documentary Film Festival, was arrested last week at the Damascus airport where he was waiting to board a flight to Cairo.
Among those expressing their concern is the Toronto International Film Festival, which issued a press release regarding the disappearance.
"Nyrabia belongs to the emerging generation of Syrian filmmakers passionate about world cinema and passionate about freedom. We are extremely concerned by his arrest -- filmmakers must be allowed to express themselves through their films, without fear of reprisal," they said
in a statement.
Nyrabia’s wife, Diana al Jeiroudi, has reported that she lost contact with her husband after he arrived at Damascus International Airport.
European and American film industry professionals have also called on Syrian authorities to reveal where the filmmaker is being detained.
Fears are rampant that the filmmaker has been arrested under suspicions of rebel involvement stemming from the recent international event, Dox Box Global Day, which was organised by Nyrabia where a selection of Syrian documentary films were screened overseas. As published on the Dox Box website, its aim was to show the world ‘how poverty, oppression and isolation do not prevent humans from being spectacularly brave, stubborn and dignified.’
This is certainly the kind of thing that angers Syrian troops, who have been steadily cracking down on anybody who appears to be calling for political freedom from Syrian President Bashar al-Asaad.
Most worrying of all is the recent reports of artists who have been killed by the regime. In May of this year, young filmmaker Bassel Shedaheh was shot in Homs, while just last month we wrote
about the death of Syrian sculptor Wael Issa Kaston at the hands of the Syrian government.
Many artists have fled the country since the crackdowns have started. Writer Samar Yazbek left Syria for fear of her and her children’s life after she spoke out against the government last year, while renowned filmmaker Oussama Mohammad has also taken similar measures to flee the oppression.
Apart from being an internationally recognised filmmaker and producer, Nyrabia has also served on international film juries in the past, including the Amsterdam, Tehran, Leipzig and Copenhagen documentary film festivals.