Hivos partner wins at Sundance Film Festival with ‘Return to Homs’

Photo: Kahtan Hassoun, courtesy of Sundance Institute

The documentary Return to Homs, produced by Hivos partner Proaction Film from Syria, has won the prestigious World Cinema Grand Jury Prize for Documentary at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

Hivos is a longstanding supporter of Proaction Film, an organisation that produces and promotes independent creative documentary filmmaking with a focus on various social issues, including the situation of women, and particularly gender-equality issues with relevance to Arab-speaking audiences. These films have been successful in both Syria and abroad at various international festivals.

Return to Homs

Directed by Talal Derki and produced by Orwa Nyrabia, Hans Robert Eisenhauer and Diana El Jeiroudi, Return to Homs was also chosen to open the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) in 2013.

Filmed over three years, the documentary follows a young group of revolutionaries in Homs, Syria, in their struggle against the Syrian Arab Army. Starting with participation in peaceful protests, two close friends, Basset and Ossama, are gradually pushed to join the armed opposition by the devastation and brutal repression wrought by Assad’s forces. The viewer is treated to an impression of the war in Syria from within and feels almost a part of the revolutionary group. Return to Homs explores youth in war and the choices they are forced to make in a city we have heard much about, but which the film allows us to inhabit. 

Return to Homs received financial support from the IDFA Bertha Fund supported by Hivos’ Film and Documentary Fund (Expression and Engagement programme), which aims to expand the space for free expression and freedom of speech to strengthen citizen engagement. Hivos believes diverse, high-quality and independent media are crucial for the development of a democratic society. Therefore Hivos has supported Proaction Film since before 2011 as a key, experienced player in producing, promoting and distributing high-quality socially relevant films and documentaries in Syria and the region.