Now Streaming: Far From Bashar Observes the War at Home

By Pat Mullen

Can a family ever escape the troubles of the past when calling a new nation home? Far from Bashar observes the lives of a Syrian family in Montreal as they settle after fleeing the violence sparked by the uprising against Bashar al-Assad. The film, directed by Pascal Sanchez and released today for free streaming from the National Film Board of Canada, adds to the complex portraits of migration stories in Canada. The film follows Adnan al-Mahamid, his wife Basmah, and their four children as they establish a new life. However, the trauma of being incarcerated for his activism still haunts Adnan, and the reality of the ongoing trouble in Syria never leaves the family as the connect with loved ones dispersed around the globe. We’ve seen stories of the violence in Syria, but the war that refugees carry with them is only beginning to be explored.

“The family’s apartment was bursting with life,” writes Sanchez in his director’s statement. “But there was also tremendous vulnerability, pain, a terrible fear for loved ones left behind. I told myself we know nothing about this war—that our ignorance was downright obscene. That the repressive regime was hideously, incredibly violent. And this was something the al-Mahamids had to cope with daily as they struggled to build their new lives. In filming them, I wanted to pay tribute to their courage, humanity and immense love for one another.”

Synopsis: Several years ago, after taking part in the mass uprisings against Bashar al-Assad, Adnan al-Mahamid had to flee Syria with his wife, Basmah, and their four children. Now settled in Montreal, the family opens their door to filmmaker Pascal Sanchez. They’ve adjusted to life in a peaceful city, but Adnan and Basmah still fear for loved ones back in Syria whose status and whereabouts remain unknown. The war that’s thousands of kilometres away continues to haunt them, surging suddenly to the fore in a conversation, Skype call or Facebook feed. Far from Bashar chronicles an endearing family as they go about their lives, tormented by a distant and seemingly interminable conflict.

Far from Bashar, Pascal Sanchez, provided by the National Film Board of Canada