PN 35: Syrian Filmmaker Orwa Nyrabia In Exile

Before Trump’s travel ban for Syrians, we sat down with Orwa Nyrabia at the Sundance Film Festival where he was attending workshops. Three years ago, he produced “Return to Homs,” directed by Talal Derki, about the resistance movement in his hometown. The film won Sundance’s Jury Prize for World Documentary and is now available on Netflix.

In this conversation, Pure Nonfiction host Thom Powers talks to Orwa about his many activities in support of Arab documentary. Prior to Syria’s civil war, Orwa and his partner Diana El Jeiroudi co-founded the Damascus-based festival Dox Box. They took inspiration from the dissident Syrian filmmaker Omar Amiralay who comes up in this conversation.

In 2011, when Syrians took to the streets for peaceful demonstrations, Orwa helped organize a letter to denounce government violence co-signed by hundreds of international filmmakers. The following year, he was jailed for three weeks, prompting an international “Free Orwa” campaign that won his release. In addition to “Return to Homs,” he also produced “Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait,” directed by Ossama Mohammad and Wiam Simav Bedirxan, that played at the 2014 Cannes and Toronto film festivals.

On Twitter: @orwany @doxbox_ngo @purenonfiction @thompowers

Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.

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