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Racy Egyptian Films Persist in the Fa...
Beirut
By Cherine Yazbeck
29 Jan 2015

Beirut, Lebanon

January 29, 2015

After the death of Arab film icons Faten Hamama and Sabah earlier this year, cinema fans revived the memories of what many describe as “la belle époque,” which dated from the 1950s till the mid-1970s.

During this golden age, budgets and standards were considerably high and the progressive state ideology promoted the production of films that were successful throughout the Arab world. This wave benefited from cultural interaction between different Arab societies, a seemingly endless cache of amazing talents and the blessing of a dedicated audience. More significantly, movies reflected liberal societies.

Aboudi Abu Jaoudeh, the director of Al-Furat publishing house, is a collector of Arab film posters. Through this collection, one can understand the prevailing mentality at that time. He explains that since the mid-1970s, filmmakers have steered away from showing explicit content as a result of pressure from producers from the Arabian Gulf.

A recent audiovisual performance titled Gharam wa Intiqam (Love and Revenge), designed by artist Randa Mirza and rapper Wael Kodaih, known as Rayess Beik, revives Arab cinema’s golden era. The show, which is still running in alternative venues, incorporates electronic music into scenes from some of the most iconic Egyptian, Lebanese, and Syrian movies.

This video includes an interview with Sadek Sabbah, a famous Lebanese cinema producer and distributor of Egyptian and Lebanese movies whose company, Sabbah Art Production, was a main contributor of cinematic production in the 1960s and 1970s. He analyses how social change in Egypt has affected the movies and discusses the influence of Islamists on public freedom in Egypt.

Shotlist and Transcript

1 SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man), Abboudi Abou Jawdeh, Director of Al-Furat Publishing House
00:00 – 01:17
I am focusing my interest on Lebanese cinema. I want to archive [the relevant material] accurately.
I love this poster. It features Sabah. Many posters were inspired by Western ones. This one was shows an influence of the movie Gilda, starred by Rita Hayworth. They have reproduced the exact same poster in Lebanon.
When James Bond movies were out, there were spy movies in Lebanon, too. When musical films were produced abroad, musicals were also produced [in Lebanon]. The same trends that appeared in the 1970s… When erotic movies were produced, the same took place in Arab countries and Lebanon between 1970 and 1972 or 1973. The same trends in world or Arab cinema were echoed [in Lebanon]. These trends had a worldwide effect. This includes all aspects [of cinema], from designing poster to producing the movie. This also affected people’s lives.

2 Various of Abboudi Abou Jawdeh examining posters

3 SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man), Abboudi Abou Jawdeh, Director of Al-Furat Publishing House

01:31 – 08:18

01:31
This movie… this poster dates from the 1940s. This is how they designed posters.
In the 1970s and 1980s – the late 1970s and early 1980s – especially when video and new technology appeared, people were able to take movies to their homes. At that time, funding from Saudi Arabia or the Gulf in general was channeled into production. This funding forced its own requirements on production. It imposed certain limits. There was a large-scale consumption of cinematic work, or movies in general, through new broadcasting media; there were new TV stations as well as video.
This financial capital bought a large part of old movies and financed new movies. It laid down new models for work. For example, [investors] require that certain scenes or topics do not appear. There were certain molds that had to contain these movies. Movies that were produced until the 1970s were modified to suit the new display rules. All the kisses were removed from movies, as well as all scenes that were deemed unacceptable. Movies that are being currently shown and that were produced in 1950s, 1960s and 1970s are disfigured.
It was a rare for a director to be able to take control of his own movie. Even earlier, in the 1950s and 1960s, there were directors who suffered in their work and their movies were even censored. They used to be paid per movie. They would receive a certain fee, for example 6,000 or 7,000 Egyptian pounds and would not ask about the movie later. Some producers were in need of money.
I started collecting… one usually has a favorite actor or actresses. I started collecting their photos and posters. After the show, I used to ask workers in the movie theater if there were any posters [that I could take]. I started collecting posters of Western movies. I continued this collection, and later I was interested in cinema magazines, especially in the 1970s… in the early 1970s. Cinema was the main source of entertainment in Lebanon at that time. People from all social classes used to go at least five or six times a year to the movie theater.
When she [Um Kulthum] died, they filmed her funeral and showed part of that footage [in the cinema].
Al-Haram (The Sin) was a movie produced in 1968. It was based on a novel by Youssef Idriss. It is a beautiful story about a female peasant who was a raped by another peasant and did not dare to say anything about it. She did not even tell her husband about this. She died while giving birth. This story is very tragic and can really be described as a story with a social interest. It shows women’s suffering in our Arab societies.
The changes… now there are restrictions that actors, directors, or producers apply to avoid being held accountable. It is not the people who would hold them accountable. [A producer would say,] “I have paid one or two million dollars to produce a TV series; I do not want the government to ban it if I did not remove this or that part.” Producers avoid any trouble to be able to make a profit.
06:42
This poster was designed by artist Hilmi al-Touni. I think that it expresses very beautifully what the movie is about. All the black color… the background represents death while she represents life. The movie’s illustration is done beautifully.
07: 13
Look at this poster. Imagine that this poster was printed in 1955. This is one of the first movies starred by Hind Rustom.
This kind of magazines was printed in Lebanon in 1960s and even in the 1970s. This magazine was distributed in Arab countries. It is called Cinema and Marvels. It was indeed a marvelous magazine!
Interviewer: Do you think it would be possible for such magazines to be printed again in the Arab world?
- No, it is not possible. Some of [these models] were Arab. You would be able to find Arab dancers on magazine covers. It was normal.

4 Various of Metro al-Madina theatre hall and cabaret

5 SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Woman) Randa Mirza, Artist
08:44
“Our show is called Love and Revenge, the title of a movie starred by Asmahan in 1944. The entire show is based on replaying Arabic songs that date from the 1930s till the 1960s. It features Egyptian, Lebanese and Syrian movies from the same period.“

  1. Various of show. NAT Sound: Music.

7 SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man), Rayyes Beik, Musician
09:25
“I wanted to revive these songs with a new spirit so that I and other people rediscover them. In remixing these songs, I incorporated electronic music. I changed the beat and the length of the songs. The song now has a new face, a new spirit.”

  1. SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Woman) Randa Mirza, Artist
    09:55
    “When we return to that era, we realize that we had a great cinematographic and musical production, which had simplicity, aesthetics and experience that now have been lost. We want to bring this era back. Then we would perhaps be able to say, “See where we were and where we are now.”

9 SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man), Rayyes Beik, Musician and Rapper
10:20
“There is a political, economic and artic void. There is a big void in the Arab world.”

10 Wide of posters in Metro al-Madina

11 SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man), Aurelien Zouki, Spectator
10:40
It is really important that they worked on Egyptian movies. This shows our situation back then and what we have now reached. This difference is a bit scary.

12 Various of show. Scenes taken from Kaborya, starred by Ahmadn Zaki and Raghda (9:14).
Scenes feature dancer Tahiya Karioka. Soundtrack , song by Warda al-Jazairiya (11:08); Dancer Samia Jamal (11:39); scenes from film Abi Fawqa al-Shajara, starred by Abdel Halim Hafez and Samia Jamal; soundtrack, Tindam by Widad; film starred by Sleiman Eid

13 SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Sadeq Sabbah, Owner of Sabbah Art Production
15:11 – 18:36

I think the change is due to the fact that people’s mindset was affected by the Islamic tide. Part of this was negative. This negative part affected people. It affected their social habits and way of life, which has to do with cinema, what they eat or drink, as well as going out. It has to do with everything. It is not specifically related to cinema. If, in Lebanon for example, I wanted to say that cinema is the mirror of society… I feel that cinema currently is not the mirror of society. If you look at 10 women in the street, you will see that nine of them wear the hijab. However, if we looked at women in Egyptian movies, the ratio would be reversed. Maybe one tenth of them wear a hijab.
Lebanon embraced Egyptian cinema approximately from 1965 to 1975. They [Egyptian filmmakers] discovered three things in Lebanon. First of all, Lebanon is a large studio where there is great scenery. There is the sea, mountains and a nice climate. Media services in Lebanon were – and still are – very distinguished. Egyptians discovered that film production was easy in Lebanon. In addition to that, there were Lebanese actors and actresses present in Lebanon, which complemented Egyptian cinema. More importantly, distribution originated in Lebanon. The distribution revenues were funneled into Lebanon, which created an economic cycle during these 10 years. This facilitated film production. I feel nostalgic about the movie Nagham fi Hayati (A Life Melody), starred by Farid al-Atrash. First of all, I followed my parents work while they produced this movie. Secondly, there was a horrible incident. Farid al-Atrash died during two days before the end of filming, but they [the crew] were able to come up with solutions. It might also have to do with the fact that this was the last movie made in Lebanon – we were talking about these movies made between 1965 and 1975. After that the war broke out. I always have this movie in mind and I always love to watch it. Also, It featured a large group of Lebanese actors, such as Shoushou. There was a large Lebanese cast in this movie. It also featured classical scenery in Lebanon, such as Baalbek, Byblos, the cable cart, which was very important back then. It also featured Tyre. It was as if there Egyptian cinema was bidding Lebanon farewell.

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It's All in Lebanon (French)
Beirut
By Charaf
25 Nov 2014

2011
Beirut, Lebanon

Since the end of the Lebanese civil war in 1990, Lebanon has become a hot bed of both entertainment and news media production in the Arab world. Amongst the melee of risque Arabic music videos and luxury television commercials, the Shia political movement Hezbollah has proved to be one of the most media savvy institutions in the country, using film, television, music, and masterful political stagecraft to further its image in the minds of Lebanese and the international community. From the flashy music videos of Haifa Wehbe to the resistance videos of Hezbollah, this film follows the tumultuous post-civil war history of Lebanon through its fertile media industry.

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Sample media
Live shot from Kobani
Sanliurfa, Turkey
By sami lasmar
20 Oct 2014

Sample work of live shot (satellite) in Kobani, Syria.

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Young Syrian Lenses
Aleppo
By Ruben Lagattolla
24 Sep 2014

Date: April 2014
Length: 52'
English Subtitles
NSV available

Since the beginning of the Syrian Revolution, Aleppo rebels have relentlessly documented events on the ground through their media outlet halabnews.com, providing footage for top international broadcasters. This documentary film approaches the media arm of the Syrian resistance where war photographer Enea Discepoli, who attempted to organize a photo exhibition in Old Aleppo with media activists from Halab News media, left off. Crossing the border, photographs in-hand, they would soon find that conditions on the ground made their exhibition impossible. This story similarly aims to see through the lenses of these young Syrian media activists, to witness the Syrian tragedy unfolding since 2011. Told through interviews, facts given by reporters, and through filmed first-hand accounts of the tragedies unfolding on the ground; the film seeks to put the viewer directly beside these Young Syrian Lenses. Military operations unfold on camera, however, the film also engages the Aleppo Local Council which is the only democratic hope for the population.

This journey alongside a group of young, hopefully media activists is told through images rather than narration. At the same time, the film prefers considering the human condition instead of high-impact military imagery that too often let the viewer forget the humanitarian tragedy of war.

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Safety Course for Syrian Journalists
Istanbul
By TTM Contributor 10
09 Jul 2014

A course has been set up to educate Syrian journalists, inside and outside of Syria, about occupational safety and information protection. Sponsored by al-Doha centre for the Freedom of Press, the course trains the journalists methods of protecting themselves and their information in the dangerous environment of the Syrian uprising. The course was held in Istanbul over a period of five days and was attended by 31 students. Al-Doha Centre paid for the costs of travelling and accommodation for the journalists who received certificates at the end.

Interviews:
1: Ibrahim al-Idilbi, Syrian media activist from Idlib, Cooperates with al-Jazeera
2: Hashem al-Abdullah, freelance journalist
3: Mour Mrtini, freelance journalist and an independent writer
4: Hadi al-Khateeb, trainer of the information safety course
5: Hassan al-Rashidi, trainer of the occupational safety course
Transcript:

Ibrahim al-idelbi:
“We are a group of activists inside Syria who came to Istanbul, in Turkey, to attend a course sponsored by al-Doha centre for the freedom of press. The course is intended to teach us how to protect our information and ourselves. We really needed a course like this and, as you know, the crisis has escalated in Syria, which is why occupational safety was the main aspect for this course. We also benefited a lot from the information they gave us about protecting the information that we obtain.”

Hashem al-Abdullah:
“We, as activists in Syria, started reporting events from Syria, but we lacked the simplest knowledge about protection of ourselves and our devices, that we used to transfer information. Through this course we were introduced to many methods for protecting information and for occupational safety that we did not know before.”

Nour Martini:
“It was announced that al-Doha centre set up a course to teach journalists about occupational and information safety, so I applied for this course. Since I am in constant contact with activists and journalists inside Syria, and since I am a woman spending time near the conflict areas in Syria, I need the training which al-Doha Centre is providing. We need to know these methods, not only for our own safety, but also for the safety of the network of journalists and news agencies that we deal with. The trainers were professionals, not only in terms of being news reporters, but also in digital security.”

Hadi al-Khateeb:
“I am an information safety and digital security trainer and I work with al-Doha Center. We have been training activists and journalists for two days about the issues of information safety and digital security. The training concentrated on the dangers journalists might face, concerning the data they have and the sources they work with. We also worked on the issue of protecting smartphones that are used by the journalists to write reports and to take photos. So we concentrated on the usage of these devices and the different strategies.” Hassan al-Rashidi:
“This course as you can see was set up for the sake of protecting Syrian journalists who work in areas of conflict. We taught them about security precautions that should be applied while on the ground and first aid techniques in case of injury. We also introduced them to the types of mines that are found in some areas and the actions a professional journalist should take if they find themselves in danger or stopped at a checkpoint. The way that a journalist should dress, for their own safety, so they do not look similar to government forces or any other armed group. We also talked about the ethics of the profession and ways in which a journalist should never behave, such as carrying a weapon or becoming a spy. We also taught them how to deliver this information to their colleagues who were not able to attend the course.”

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Media Censorship in Venezuela 11
Caracas, Venezuela
By Carlos Hernandez
18 Feb 2014

Journalists marching in Caracas, Venezuela to demand press freedom on 12 February 2014.

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Media Censorship in Venezuela
By Carlos Hernandez
17 Feb 2014

Venezuelan journalists are concerned about the lack of freedom to report in their country. On February 12 , the coverage of a student protest march was minimized in newsrooms by creating an information blackout. Self-censorship is happening in the media, due to pressures from the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

A form of this pressure can be seen by the government's refusal to sell foreign exchange to the media, to import the paper for printing - there is a exchange control in Venezuela and the only provider of currency is the government , unless acquired on the black market at a price 10 times higher than the official price. Eight daily papers in the country have closed their editions, according to the Press and Society Institute , an NGO that advocates freedom of the press, and at least 40 are reducing the circulation.

The papers need to buy dollars to import their paper. The government is the only one who can sell them dollars. Paper for printing is running out fast, and many no longer have stock in their warehouses. Many of the papers are critical of the government.

Before the student protest last week, journalists and media workers marched in Caracas, demanding the government currencies, as now there are increasingly more journalists out of work, because newspapers are closing, and freedom of press is being threatened.

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Media Censorship in Venezuela 1
Caracas, Venezuela
By Carlos Hernandez
17 Feb 2014

Journalists marching in Caracas, Venezuela to demand press freedom on 12 February 2014.

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Media Censorship in Venezuela 4
Caracas, Venezuela
By Carlos Hernandez
17 Feb 2014

Journalists marching in Caracas, Venezuela to demand press freedom on 12 February 2014.

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Media Censorship in Venezuela 8
Caracas, Venezuela
By Carlos Hernandez
17 Feb 2014

Journalists protesting against media censorship and oppression in Venezuela.

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Media Censorship in Venezuela 7
Caracas, Venezuela
By Carlos Hernandez
17 Feb 2014

Journalists marching in Caracas, Venezuela to demand press freedom on 12 February 2014.

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Media Censorship in Venezuela 6
Caracas, Venezuela
By Carlos Hernandez
17 Feb 2014

Journalists marching in Caracas, Venezuela to demand press freedom on 12 February 2014.

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Media Censorship in Venezuela 9
Caracas, Venezuela
By Carlos Hernandez
17 Feb 2014

Journalists's protest against the media censorship causing newspapers to close and journalists to lose their jobs in Venezuela.

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Media Censorship in Venezuela 10
Caracas, Venezuela
By Carlos Hernandez
17 Feb 2014

Journalists protest against media censorship in Venezuela where the government refuses to sell foreign exchange to the media or import paper for printing because of strict exchange control.

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Drugs End Your Life
Libya
By Muhannad.Lamin
11 Sep 2013

A Short Film\PSA about Drugs, inspired by a true stories of Libyan Youth .

Produced By: 2GO2
Cast: Akram Khair Allah, Nizar Al Ghati
Voice Over: Ahmed Al Juhud

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Dance of the Oasis of Siwa
Marsa Alam, Egypt
By Ahmed Adel
10 Sep 2013

رقصه شعبية يرقصها اهالى واحة سيوه المصرية فى ملتقى القبائل المصرية تاريخ التصوير 2009

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Khufu Solar Boat Excavation (11 of 26)
Giza, Egypt
By Leyland Cecco
25 Jun 2013

The Minister of State for Antiquities Ahmed Eissa removes his mask to answer questions for the media. In order to enter the excavation area, workers and members of the delegations must wear suits and face coverings.

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Khufu Solar Boat Excavation (10 of 26)
Giza, Egypt
By Leyland Cecco
25 Jun 2013

The lead member of the Japanese delegation answers questions for Japanese and Egyptian media. The Japanese archaeologists from Waseda University have leveraged technological advances to aid the excavation process.

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Ankara Protest (28 of 30)
Ankara, Turkey
By Amy Hume
02 Jun 2013

What started as a protest to save Gezi Park, in Istanbul, has turned into countrywide protests. In Turkey's capital city, Ankara, peaceful protestors were met with tear gas and water cannon. The protests have now escalated into a call for PM Tayyip Erdoğan to step down from power.

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Protests in Malaysia against alleged ...
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
By FirstName LastName
09 May 2013

Malaysian protestors defy police ban to rally against election results

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Protests in Malaysia against alleged ...
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
By FirstName LastName
09 May 2013

Umbrellas in the rain at opposition rally

Malaysian protestors defy police ban to rally against election results
Thousands of protestors risked arrest to attend a rally to protest against what opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, has called “the worst electoral fraud” in Malaysia’s history.

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Protests in Malaysia against alleged ...
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
By FirstName LastName
09 May 2013

Umbrellas and flags in the rain at opposition rally

Malaysian protestors defy police ban to rally against election results
Thousands of protestors risked arrest to attend a rally to protest against what opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, has called “the worst electoral fraud” in Malaysia’s history.

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Protests in Malaysia against alleged ...
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
By FirstName LastName
09 May 2013

Supporter at rally in Kelana Jaya Stadium

Malaysian protestors defy police ban to rally against election results
Thousands of protestors risked arrest to attend a rally to protest against what opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, has called “the worst electoral fraud” in Malaysia’s history.

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Protests in Malaysia against alleged ...
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
By FirstName LastName
09 May 2013

Umbrellas and flags in the rain at opposition rally

Malaysian protestors defy police ban to rally against election results
Thousands of protestors risked arrest to attend a rally to protest against what opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, has called “the worst electoral fraud” in Malaysia’s history.

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Protests in Malaysia against alleged ...
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
By FirstName LastName
09 May 2013

A festive mood at the opposition rally

Malaysian protestors defy police ban to rally against election results
Thousands of protestors risked arrest to attend a rally to protest against what opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, has called “the worst electoral fraud” in Malaysia’s history.

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Protests in Malaysia against alleged ...
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
By FirstName LastName
09 May 2013

Supporters at rally in Kelana Jaya Stadium

Malaysian protestors defy police ban to rally against election results
Thousands of protestors risked arrest to attend a rally to protest against what opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, has called “the worst electoral fraud” in Malaysia’s history.

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Protests in Malaysia against alleged ...
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
By FirstName LastName
08 May 2013

Holding signs at opposition rally in Kelana Jaya Stadium

Malaysian protestors defy police ban to rally against election results
Thousands of protestors risked arrest to attend a rally to protest against what opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, has called “the worst electoral fraud” in Malaysia’s history.

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من يخذل الثورة؟؟
Tunis, Tunisia
By Hamza Ltifi
07 May 2013

كان سؤالا لمجموعة من الشخصيات التي تحسب على الثورة والتي عرفت بنضالها في فترة حكم بن علي عمن يمكن ان يخذل الثورة التونسية ؟؟

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Muslim Brotherhood Shield
Egyptian High Court, Cairo, Egypt
By elmasdr
19 Apr 2013

Members of the Muslim Brotherhood build a shield in front of the high court to protect themselves and use it to attack opposition activists.

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Protest Against Media
Tahrir Square, Cairo , Egypt
By elmasdr
16 Apr 2013

Egyptian journalists protest in front of the Egyptian Journalists' Syndicate against the Minister of Information's membership to the Muslim Brotherhood after his harassment with female journalists.

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The Choice of Democracy, Kafranbel
Kafranbel, Syria
By Mais Istanbuli
14 Apr 2013

Every week, Ahmad Jalal, a young dentist in the city of Kafranabel, Syria makes controversial drawings about the Syrian regime, its allies, and the international community. Each drawing is a protest against the international community's declarations about Syria, or a denunciation of human rights abuses committed by the Syrian regime. Every week a banner is also made and echos the messages found in the drawings.

Unknown before the beginning of the Syrian revolution in 2011, Kafranbel is a small city that has become an icon of the Syrian uprising. Located in the Idlib region of North-Western Syria, in a zone controlled by the Free Syrian Army's Knights of the law brigade, this small city is now becoming known for its caricatures and banners.

The text on the caricatures and banners of Kafranabel is written in English in order to "reach the international public opinion more that the governments, as [the governments] have never done something for us since the beginning of the revolution", Ahmad Jalal says. Ahmad Jalal also tries to use the caricatures as a way to promote Syrian unity. Some drawings and messages have been dedicated, for instance, to Qamishli, a predominantly Kurdish city in the north-east of the country which is under the control of the PYD, a Kurdish independence party. After two years of revolution and war, Kafranbel is trying to lead the fight against sectarianism and is fast becoming a model for the rest of the Syrian population opposed to the regime, but keeping hope for a unified Syria.