„Back“ / press

Press reviews for „Back“ by Yazan Rabee

„Thankfully, given artistic freedom and scope, genuinely refreshing and empowered voices can emerge. Dutch-funded Back (Yazan Rabee, 2023, above) is one such film. The director, an emigre from Syria, speaks first of his nightmares and trauma in the wake of his homeland’s Civil War. Images of a figure, presumably himself, stranded on a beach, and POV shots of somebody running through the woods bring to mind media depictions of refugees we’ve become inundated by and desensitised to: faceless, hungry people on boats and emerging through forests. But Rabee opens this up considerably, digging deep underneath the surface. He delves into archival footage, combining self-shot depictions of the Arab spring with TV recordings of Bashar al-Assad and his late father Hazef al-Assad; a strongman in the same vein. Rabee speaks of longing to return to the time of Hazef: a time of peace for Syria, albeit one built on authoritarian state security. Therein lies the contradiction. Hazef’s time feels like a time of relative security (especially compared to today), but one rooted in geopolitical convenience and cult of personality – the pageantry, in spite of its ridiculousness, was key to the sense of safety. In other words, it’s a story, and the specifics of that story can never be returned to; their foundations have long since collapsed. The inability to return to somethinganything, also informs Rabee’s status as an exile, pushing our director into an ever-increasing cycle of nightmares and anxiety. It’s astounding film-making, all the more so for being one of the shortest films here at just seven minutes long. It merges the personal and the political in a profoundly affecting way, emerging conscious of the director’s own status as a refugee/expat/exile and of the political structures that transported him against his will.“
review by Fedor Tot on journeyintocinema.com

„Ebenso ruhelos und die Folgen eines Krieges verarbeitend, flieht der Protagonist von BACK vor wiederkehrenden Albträumen. Der Film von Yazan Rabee ist dabei immer in Bewegung, fokussiert Schritte, Schuhe, Füße, die fortrennen. Originalaufnahmen von Demonstrationen in Syrien treffen auf in sich verschwimmende Erinnerungen und (Alb-)Träume. Ein impulsives Stimmungsmosaik mit biografischen und zeitdokumentarischen Elementen.“
review by Paul Seidel for Riecks Filmkritiken

„Apropos Krieg – war da was? Der aus Found Footage montierte BACK von Yazan Rabee, der Kriegserinnerungen und Traumsequenzen verwebt, erinnert schmerzlich daran, dass der Krieg in Syrien keine Vergangenheit ist, auch wenn die Bilder aus der Ukraine gerade alles überlagern.“
review by Marie Ketzscher for Berliner Filmfestivals

„The shorts, which are usually filled with great MENA titles, this year feature stories from the Levant, but produced in Europe. Such is the case with the Netherlands backed Back (pardon the pun) by Yazan Rabee. The synopsis for it reads: „He has left his Syrian homeland, but he cannot escape from a recurring nightmare where state security forces are pursuing him whilethe home that can save him seems beyond his grasp. How deep into the past do the roots of a trauma reach?““
mention on MIME

„BACK includes disturbing archive footage of demonstrations during which the authorities suddenly shoot at peaceful protesters chanting for freedom. There are arrests and deaths. In one chilling moment captured in slow motion, a protester locks eyes with a policeman just as the cop is taking aim to shoot at him.“
review by Geoffrey Macnab for SEE NL

„In Back by Yazan Rabee, a young man who fled to Europe from Syria describes his re-occurring nightmare. The film feels its way forward through the country’s history, via a collage composed of news footage, feelings and fragmentary memories, in an attempt to get to the root of a trauma affecting an entire society.“
interview with Anna Henckel-Donnersmarck for the Berlinale website

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