The Suffering Grasses: When Elephants Fight, It Is the Grass That Suffers (2012)

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*Message of Context*: The film portrays a time when the opposition was just beginning to form, and the Free Syrian Army was still an amorphous concept. The Syrian people hoped that the FSA would be there to defend civilians and not wage an all-out war against the government, using the same dirty tactics and human rights violations. The film portrays a time when there was still hope we could go back to the nonviolent revolution, but the armed revolution hijacked the genuine people's movement and foreign powers transformed Syrian people's legitimate demand of change into a total proxy war that keeps producing more death, devastation, refugees, and internally displaced people.
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Several years into a bloody civil war, with over one hundred thousand dead and counting, the ongoing conflict in Syria has become a microcosm of political tensions in the Middle East and an unsavory reflection of the world at large. Against the backdrop of the Arab Spring and the complicated politics of the region, this film seeks to explore the Syrian conflict through the humanity of the civilians who have been killed, abused, and displaced to the squalor of refugee camps. In all such conflicts, large and small, it is civilians—women and children, families and whole communities—who suffer at the leisure of those in power and get caught in the crossfire of the hegemons. When elephants go to war, it is the grass that suffers!

In May 2012, director Iara Lee participated in a press delegation to the Turkish refugee camps housing Syrian exiles, where she interviewed those who have been most affected by the bloody conflict. Some who fled to the camps identify as militants, others are committed to nonviolent tactics, and many more are just trying to live in peace without repression. Each may have his or her own opinion about the decision of some actors to take up arms, or about whether the international community should try to topple the regime. Ultimately, however, any understanding of the Syrian conflict and its costs should be rooted in recognizing the humanity and suffering of these refugees. This film is one effort to do just that.

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