Melissa Langer, 2015 MFA graduate of the Documentary Film and Video Program in the Department of Art & Art History at Stanford University, recently won the ARRI IDFA Award for Best Student Documentary for her thesis film, My Aleppo. One of fifteen films competing in the competition, the jury had this to say about Langer's film:
"The opening shot immediately strikes you with a sense of leaving and longing, which captures the essence of the film. By showing everyday life of a family who escaped from their war-torn home country, the director managed to touch deep into the topics of separation, melancholy, confusion and regret. A sad and beautiful film."
Film Synopsis: the young Abdullah family fled the Syrian civil war and settled in Pretoria, South Africa. There, in their little one-room apartment, the Internet is all that connects them with Aleppo. As long as the Wi-Fi is working back in Syria, they can Skype with family and friends in their home city. Although happy to be able to stay in touch, it’s agonizing for them to witness from afar how their city is suffering. Lama, the mother of the family, explains how after civil war broke out the buildings crumbled like cakes. News photos show the buildings they knew even more disintegrated – the post office on the corner, and there, that hotel. The city was once so busy it would take an hour just to cross the street, and now it’s deserted. But the greatest disappointment of all is seeing the changes in people whom they were close to. They hear about the deaths of family members, of how they got drawn into the conflict and the unexpected things they did. There’s great sorrow in the eyes of the Abdullah family, all of them looking into the camera. “I said farewell, Aleppo. If I see you again, God only knows what you will look like.”
Learn more about My Aleppo.