Social x British Council: Queens of Syria | Screening & Discussion, Mumbai
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It is like us. Our houses were our kingdoms. We are like Hecuba. We lost everything.” — Fatima
Queens of Troy tells the story of sixty women from all sides of Syria’s conflict, in exile in Jordan, who came together in Autumn 2013 to create and perform their own version of the Trojan Women, the timeless Greek tragedy about the plight of women in war. What followed was an extraordinary moment of cross-cultural contact in which women born in 20th century Syria found a blazingly vivid mirror of their own experiences in the stories of a queen, princesses and ordinary women like them, enslaved, bereaved and exiled by the Trojan War.
It was a process charged with emotion and fraught with challenges, as long buried issues came to the surface and at times the project itself hung in the balance. Political tensions surfaced as those whose houses had been caught in Free Syrian Army crossfire found themselves working alongside women with husbands who were active in the Free Syrian
Army, and some whose fathers and brothers were shot dead in front of them by regime gangs. Some women wanted to mention Assad by name in the performance, and curse him freely, whereas others were frightened of the consequences of doing something so bold, even if they did share the sentiment.
Though some had the support of their families, many had to challenge their husband or fathers as they broke long-held taboos, working with men and foreigners outside the house-and performing on stage. A few were reluctant to be seen on camera for fear of endangering family back in Syria. The women had to confront a blizzard that reduced temperatures to below zero in their unheated apartments, brought Amman to a standstill, and threatened to cancel the performances they’d worked so hard towards. No ordinary cast meant no ordinary challenges. Struggles remembering lines were also deeper struggles with the memories those lines recalled. Over the course of the six weeks, around half the women dropped out of appearing on stage in the performance due to personal shyness or often family pressure. But for many of the women, this was the first time in their lives that anyone was interested in hearing their story, and the first time that they had been asked to
create something themselves, other than the next meal for their children. New possibilities suddenly presented themselves, and intriguing conversations came up: should they remove their niqab? Should they start thinking about careers of their own?
Gradually they began to see themselves and their personal possibilities rather differently.
The film will be screened at Todi Mill Social on Monday, the 30th of April, in association with British Council. It’s a monthly ritual that Social and British Council partake in, of screening films of various genres and origins, in an attempt to build a faithful community of film lovers, across Mumbai, Delhi & Bangalore.
Entry is free, against RSVP only.
Todi Mill Social, Mumbai
CS #242, Near Viva Centre, Mathuradas Mill Compund, Lower Parel West, Mumbai