'We were like guerrilla filmmakers': U.S. filmmaker on Syria

Tue Sep 23, 2014 1:16pm EDT
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By Shanshan Chen

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Inspired by a Syrian-Palestinian activist she met in Washington D.C. at the start of the Syrian uprising, U.S. filmmaker Andrea Kalin dropped her other projects and devoted herself to capturing the Syrian conflict - and people - on film.

More than three years and several perilous trips to Syria later, her documentary "Red Lines" is a unique record of her travels with Mouaz Moustafa and his fellow-activist Razan Shalab al-Sham, a leading Syrian women's rights activist.

When Kalin met Mouaz through a common friend, Mouaz had already been to Syria as head of the Syrian Emergency Task Force, a pro-democracy NGO, supporting the groups whose peaceful protests began the uprising in early 2011.

"He was supporting civic outreach, and at the same time, he was pushing the civil society, peace," Kalin, an award-winning documentary maker, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a phone interview from Washington.

Mouaz, now a U.S. citizen, was also warning the U.S. authorities: "if they don't support the opposition and moderates and give them the support they need, they are going to be overrun and subsumed by the extremists. He was saying this three years ago," Kalin recalls.

Intrigued by the young man, Kalin put all her other work on hold and focused her lens on Syria.

"I just jumped in, with no funding, with no resources, with no concept of how we're going to tell the story, but I knew it was unfolding in front of my eyes. It's an important story to capture," said Kalin.

Mouaz introduced Kalin to Razan, a young activist who had fled to Turkey. She was making dangerous trips across the border into Syria, using a network of activists to smuggle medical aid to opposition groups.   Continued...