Lokman Slim & Monika Borgmann
Lebanon, Switzerland, France, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, 103 min
Tadmor is an infamous prison. Until 1946, it was used as barracks by the French military during its international mandate in Syria and Lebanon. In 1980, it became the scene of one of the most atrocious political massacres in history: thousands of members of the Islamist Brotherhood were killed following an assassination attempt on the Syrian President Hafez al-Assad. This building, called the “kingdom of death and madness” by the poet Faraj Bayraqdar, was destroyed by Islamic State forces during the conquest of Palmyra in 2015. Lebanese political opponents to the Syrian regime were also imprisoned there. In this film, eight of them recount and stage the horrors they have seen and suffered. Their remembrance is distressed by horrible memories of the time spent in this place of torture and humiliation. Reliving them within an almost theatrical staging, acted out by themselves, is an act of accusation as well as a liberating therapy. Here is a surprising film that makes a strong impression through the power of the speech, the simple plasticity of the images and the distressing resignation of the bodies filmed.