Keimena #7: Manazil bela abwab (Houses Without Doors)
by Avo Kaprealian

Monday January 30, 2017, 24:00 on ERT2
Manazil bela abwab (Houses Without Doors), 2016, Syria/Lebanon, 90 min.
Director: Avo Kaprealian

Houses without Doors is a subjective, intimate chronicle of the survival of a Syrian-Armenian family in Aleppo as the civilian uprising devolved into an armed conflict between 2011 and 2014. Like many in Syria, director Avo Kaprealian felt compelled to document the extraordinary events of the uprising. As the violence creeps closer to his neighborhood, and filming in the street becomes dangerous, he remains undeterred, and continues shooting from the balcony of his family’s apartment in Aleppo’s Midan district. Through his camera, we witness how the city transforms gradually into a battleground. Eventually, his lens turns inward, and he also films his family’s endurance of everyday life under civil war: power cuts, militias, snipers, and shelling.

His father, worried about reprisals, reprimands him nervously, while his mother speaks to the camera, recounting events and sharing her emotions without reserve. The family is soon faced with the question of whether to stay or leave. For Armenian-Syrians, descendants of the survivors of the genocide of Turkey’s Armenian population at the beginning of the twentieth century, the possibility of forced exile resurrects a traumatic memory. The genocide is remembered in family stories, songs, poems, and novels. It has few images, and the body of narrative films produced over the decades stands for the visual repository of the collective memory of genocide. To express his family’s agonizing struggle with the decision to leave their home in Aleppo, Kaprealian invokes sequences from other films, transforming an archive of imagined fictions into an archive of lived experience.

—Rasha Salti, curator and writer

Posted in Public TV on 01.30.2017