Talal Derki – Of Fathers and Sons #IDFA2017

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13 min. and 32 sec.

An insightful look at the family of an Al-Nusra fighter in a small village in northern Syria.

Play Podcast
13 min. and 32 sec.

PODCAST| Matt Micucci interviews Talal Derkidirector of the film Of Fathers and Sons.

To listen to the interview, click on the ► icon on the right, just above the picture

Filmmaker Talal Derki talks about his latest documentary feature, Of Fathers and Sons, which had its world premiere at the 30th International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. Derki filmed the family of an Al-Nusra fighter in a small village in northern Syria for two years and a half, focusing his camera mainly on the children, with an eye towards “the future of the new generation that don’t have a background about life except for what is going on in the war in Syria.” Of Fathers and Sons also marked the return of Derki to his native country and to his people, but by pointing the camera at his protagonists, the story formed itself. His purpose, he says in this interview, was to “focus on the relationship between fathers and sons,” and also about “how the sons can resist the brainwashing.” This is because while childern are expected to start training for the war very quickly – the footage of which is seen in this documentary – they are still childern: “For the kids, there is a resistance to stay kids. They get military training, [but] they’re still kids, and that’s the sad part of the documentary.” The sacrifice is also the father’s, who really loves them. Therefore, in a way, the film represents the paradox of life, when you love something but at the same time you destroy it. In this interview, Derki also talks about gaining access to this part of Syria, and an overview of what life is like there, and how cut off people seem to be from the outside world. He also answers the question of whether he will be going back there to film some more and whether he expects Of Fathers and Sons to ever be screened in Syria.

Of Fathers and Sons:  If you want to tame your nightmares, you need to capture them first. That’s what Syrian documentary filmmaker Talal Derki learned from his father. As in his previous film Return to Homs, he returns to his homeland and becomes part of life in a war zone. For more than two years he lives with the family of Abu Osama, an Al-Nusra fighter in a small village in northern Syria, focusing his camera mainly on the children. From a young age, the boys are trained to follow in their father’s footsteps and become soldiers of God. The horrors of war and the intimacy of family life are never far from one another. At the nearby battlefront Abu Osama fights against the enemy, while at home he cuddles with the boys and dreams of the caliphate. Talal Derki sets out to capture the moment when the children have to let go of their youth and are finally turned into Jihadi fighters. No matter how close the war comes, there’s one thing they’ve already learned: they must never cry.

  • Reporter
    Matt Micucci
  • Guest
    Talal Derki
  • Interviewee role
  • Film title
    Of Fathers and Sons
  • Festival section
    Feature-Length Competition
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