Silvered Water

Silvered Water ★★★★½

Silvered Water takes a unique approach to filmmaking in its use of the points of view of many individuals affected by the crisis in Syria. The film uses video filmed on cell phones and posted online and connects these short clips into a cohesive documentary that forms its thesis through conversation in two ways.

The first is through the editing together of these clips themselves. By virtue of having come from such a wide number of sources, we are able to get a glimpse at the current state of Syria so broad that most films would hardly come close to this one in terms of scope. The repetition of certain shots (like one of a teenaged prisoner being tortured) stand dangerously on the precipice of shock cinema, so repulsive that they nearly remove the humanity out of the shot and reduce the image to an object of provoking. What keeps them from crossing this thin line is the poetic way in which they are repeated rhythmically (yet not too often) throughout the film, almost as a reminder of the horrors Syrians face. The film emphasizes these images because they are the most important ones, the images that show us the extent to which Syrian oppressors have dehumanized the citizens of what another 2014 documentary referred to as “our terrible country.”

The second is through a more literal conversation between two filmmakers. The two artists speak eloquently about the problems facing Syria and their own experiences recording video for the film in a way that reaffirms the human spirit in the face of adversity and strife. The impossible odds stacked against the creation of this film make their musings all the more nostalgic as the film mourns the atrocities that have attempted to break down Syrians. Yet it is the artfulness of this film that is the ultimate triumph, as Syria’s vicious environment was still the birthplace of such a work of art as this film.

Though Silvered Water may come across as an overtly political film (which it is, in a sense), it is really about the human experience. It draws from so many sources in order to create a film that is truly universal within its scope.