As the Syrian civil war enters its fourth year, a new film focuses on one of the opposition fighters who leads a group of rebels against his government.
The documentary, part of this year's Washington, DC International Film Festival, puts a human face on the ongoing violence in Syria.
Four years ago, Abdul Basset Saroot was a talented player on Syria's national youth football team. But when government tanks rolled into his hometown of Homs, the 19-year old became a soldier in the civil war.
His friend Ossama Al Homsi, a video journalist, captured scenes of the fighting in Homs, images that became part of the new documentary, Return to Homs.
The film tells the story of the two men as they rise up against the Syrian Army. They began with non-violent demonstrations, with singing and dancing, but then turned to armed resistance.
“Basset saw his own brother being killed next to him," said Orwa Nyrabia, who produced the documentary. "Many were killed in the neighborhood. Ossama’s apartment, or his parents’ apartment, was shelled with a missile.”
The film shows Basset and his group of fighters repeatedly being driven out of the city by Syrian forces. But despite huge losses, they keep coming back. Today, the rebels are still under siege in Homs.
Ossama Al Homsi was captured by Syrian forces during the filming of the documentary and is still missing. Basset has become the face of the revolution and is on the regime’s most wanted list.
Nyrabia hopes the film will inspire people fighting for their freedom everywhere.
“It’s not only about Syria and it’s not only about our revolution," Nyrabia said. "We all deserve freedom and we need each other’s solidarity in order to move on to a better future.”
Return to Homs was honored with the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize for Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival.