Following The Day God Walked Away, his impressive debut about a woman’s torment during the Rwandan genocide, Belgian filmmaker Van Leew has delivered a taut chamber piece for his second feature. In InSyriated, he once again adopts a personal viewpoint to tackle layered socio-political subject matter. The film sees a small group of people holed up in an apartment in wartorn Damascus, with one matriarch desperately trying to salvage her family’s humanity as the world crumbles around them. The result is a cleverly orchestrated and genuinely tense thriller that makes the most of its limited setting; it boasts some deft camera work, as well as a superb central performance from Israeli Arab actress Hiam Abbass. Its Panorama Audience Award at this year’s Berlinale was richly deserved.
InSyriated | Philippe Van Leew (Belgium 2017) with Hiam Abbass, Diamand Bou Abboud. Starts June 22.
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