The Night (Al-Lail)
Mohammad Malas, 1993
A great Syrian film. It is about the director's home town of Quneitra, on the borders of the Golan Heights, which was almost completely destroyed by the Israelis after the 1967 war and remains in ruins. The film is a historical-autobiographical epic of three generations, taking you from the Syrian fight for independence against the French in the 1930s, through the 1948 war with Israel, and into recent times. Malas is probably the most highly regarded living Syrian director – he is still based in Damascus as far as I know – and this film is heavily influenced by Tarkovsky in the use of long, contemplative dream and memory sequences where time is as important an expressive element as space, dialogue or movement.