By Fatima Husain
Electricity is a rare luxury – gas; non-existent. Death echoes through streets and corridors. Misery is a constant companion. Amidst this daily chaos, Sana (Sawsan Ercheid), a single mother tries to raise her son, Khalil, as normally as possible.
And on one fateful day, Sana’s hunt for a meagre propane cylinder to cook for her child, takes her life for a spin.
Award winning French-Syrian Director Soudade Kaadan’s The Day I Lost My Shadow is a bare tale of routine struggles of Syrian civilians while juggling with death and commotion. The story echoes of Soudade’s personal experiences of her homeland Syria and is heavily influenced by etchings of her war engulfed city, Damascus.
© Soudade Kaadan | YouTube
In the film, Sana’s desperation for a cylinder results in her encounter with two (difficult) siblings Reem (Reham Al Kassar) and Jalal (Samer Ismael). It is here she notices Jalal does not have a shadow. Nonetheless, they take her along to the outskirts of the city in pursuit of a gas. Here they are stopped at a checkpoint, escape to nowhere and so begins their off-track journey with distress unfolding at every corner.
Sana reluctantly moves forward trying to find a way back to her son. Distressed and exhausted, many a times lonely throughout the film, Sana carries the burden of her lost self during her turbulent journey back home. She encounters many characters – each of whom have been carefully crafted to exude a strong metaphorical existence.
During her journey, shadows become an integral part of Sana’s existence. She discovers more people with no shadow – symbolic to acceptance of casualty and end of one’s self.
As with most films depicting war, death is a lurking theme throughout The Day I Lost My Shadow- from the first scene to the final shot where Sana’s shadow disappears. And so, the hope of life.
Soudade, a documentary filmmaker, ventured into feature films through The Day I Lost My Shadow.
In an exclusive interview with VIBE News Coordinator Fatima Husain, Soudade said: “One of the most difficult tasks involved in the production of this film was to recreate Syria in a completely different country. I wrote this film in Syria in 2011 and completed the script in 2012. And then I shifted to Lebanon. It has since been a long journey relocating and completing the movie.”
“The film attempts to humanise living conditions of civilians living through torture and trauma in a war besieged land - without over simplifying the story. And this is why it works for the International audience.”
The characters of Sana, Reem and Jamal primarily stood out to the audience. The dialogues were unpretentious. Although the pacing of the film could have been faster, and camera work enhanced to better theatrical contentment.
Nonetheless, the film is not deplorable and should certainly be watched to experience an organic Syria, as told by a Syrian filmmaker.
*Note: The Day I Lost My Shadow (Yom Adaatou Zouli) was originally at TIFF ’18