Film Screening: A Flood in Baath Country

Film Screening: A Flood in Baath Country

Wednesday, 20 January 2016 - 7:30pm
Investcorp Auditorium
Sophie Chamas (DPhil in Oriental Studies)

Week theme: Foreshadowing the Syrian Uprising

A Flood in Baath Country (2003; 59 minutes) – Omar Amiralay 

In 1970, Omar Amiralay released the short film Film Essay on the Euphrates Dam, which chronicles the Syrian Baath regime’s construction of the Assad dam on the Euphrates River. Its celebratory take on developmentalist nationalism has been compared to the artistic and cinematic genre of Soviet Realism.

Three decades later, the Zayzun Dam collapsed, killing several people and adversely affecting the lives of thousands. The discovery that the dam’s fall had been predicted in an official report provoked a dramatic change of perspective in Amiralay.

A Flood in Baath Country narrates the grave effects the ensuing flood had on one Syrian village and, more broadly, the clientelism, educational practices and propaganda techniques that solidified Baath power for so long. The film foreshadows the uprising that swept Syria in 2011, pointing out the values and desires the regime instilled in its people and then failed to live up to.