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Mohammad al-Attar’s While I was Waiting at Avignon

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Dressed in the traditional chador, Taim’s mother enters his hospital room. She sits next to his bed and recites verses from the Koran while Taim’s alter ego overhead fills us in on his early days of resistance.  In 2011, he had made twenty videos on his Iphone during the uprising and put them on Facebook and YouTube.  He wanted to bear witness.  Years later, on Jan 29, 2015, he was driving around Damascus looking for locations to make a documentary film about the 2011 demonstrations when he was stopped at a checkpoint and later found covered with blood and unresponsive.

Omar took a different path after 2011. He first joined the Al-Nusra Front before moving on to ISIS where he discovered that their methods of torture were just as terrible as in Assad’s prisons. Taim’s first film of hundreds of demonstrators shouting “Fuck off Bashir!” and “Assad traitor!” is projected on a wall and in a brief moment of joy, Taim and Omar happily belt out an Arab rock music number.

Taim remains in a coma for an entire year.  His sister Nada arrives from Beirut to find out what happened to him. In contrast to her mother, she wears Western clothes and make-up.  One wonders how she managed to leave Damascus and find a job and a life in Beirut.  Inevitably there are scenes of her fighting with her mother about her choices. Now she wonders if she shouldn’t stay in Damascus and try to get her brother’s film produced.

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