Damascus, SANA – Since he was unable to realize his dream in becoming a pilot in the Syrian Army to defend his country, Almohannad Kalthoum turned to another career that enables him to uphold the values of patriotism.
He chose to become a filmmaker serving his country’s national and humanitarian issues through a creative vision that proved to be distinctive on both the local and Arab arenas, finishing his academic studies by making films considered to be visual documents that depict the Syrian civilization’s characteristics.
Filmmaker Kalthoum spoke to SANA about his artistic experience, saying that his artistic journey began when he was a student at the School for Martyrs’ Children, where he joined the theatre group, and later he got a training course on how to direct plays under the supervision of the Ministry of Education and the Revolutionary Youth Union.
Kalthoum explained that from the beginning, he had a natural inclination towards filmmaking and that is why he travelled to Ukraine in 2003 to study it, because at that time there were no schools or institutes specialized in teaching filmmaking or TV production.
The young filmmaker added that he was lucky to become an ambassador of Syria abroad through his works.
Kalthoum was able to adapt to the Ukrainian society’s norms and traditions, earning the love and respect of those around him, and he used his films to reflect the concerns of young people there. He also became the Chairman of the Media Department for the Syrian Community in Kharkov which enabled him to take part in organizing artistic and tourism exhibitions as well as screening films that introduce people to Syria.
While studying in Ukraine, Kalthoum made a series of short films, the most prominent of them being “Hope, Faith, Love” which was a 15-minute short film made as a graduation project to get his B.A in filmmaking, but the film that drew the most acclaim was titled “Enough” which was the project to get his Master’s degree. In this film, Kalthoum addressed the subject of Nazi racism, and he was honored for this film by the Governor of Kharkov who awarded him the City’s Award in 2010.
Upon his return to Syria, Kalthoum began to follow up the styles and approaches used in Syrian filmmaking, and made a film entitled “Barzakh” (the title refers to an Islamic concept similar to purgatory) which tackled the topic of the occupied Syrian Golan.
Since then, Kalthoum made tens of short films and documentaries in which he documented human interest stories, where the dominant topic was about the Syrians’ national concerns.
He also accompanied the Syrian Arab Army in the battlefield, and shared the journey of students of the Syrian scientific Olympics throughout their activities and recent successes. Films made by Kalthoum are full of noble human values, particularly love and patriotism.
Kalthoum concluded by saying that he has no redlines in dealing with a script; what is important to him is for the script to have a message, unity, and coherence, as was the case with his short film “High Voltage” which won the Award of Honor in the Taharqa International Festival in Sudan.
High Voltage’s script was written by Samer Mohammed Ismail, and produced by the National Film Organization. The film is about a love story between a young lighting technician working for TV production companies and a young woman coming from the countryside to study the art of theater in Damascus.
Ghinwa Maia / Hazem Sabbagh