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TIFF Concerned by Disappearance of Syrian Filmmaker Nyrabia: 'Filmmakers Must Be Allowed to Express Themselves'

Photo of Jacob Combs By Jacob Combs | Thompson on Hollywood August 30, 2012 at 12:34PM

The Toronto International Film Festival has expressed concern over the arrest of Syrian filmmaker Orwa Nyrabia, who was detained by security services loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad at the Damascus airport on August 23...
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Orwa Nyrabia
Orwa Nyrabia

The Toronto International Film Festival has expressed concern over the arrest of Syrian filmmaker Orwa Nyrabia, who was detained by security services loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad at the Damascus airport on August 23, where he was due to fly to Cairo.  He was taken to a detention center and has not been seen or heard from since then.

In its press release, TIFF writes:

"Nyrabia belongs to the emerging generation of Syrian filmmakers passionate about world cinema and passionate about freedom.  We are extremely concerned by his arrest -- filmmakers must be allowed to express themselves through their films, without fear of reprisal."

Nyrabia is the director of "Dox Box," an international documentary festival that is set in Damascus.  He received the European Documentary Network award, along with his wife, director Diana el-Jeiroudi, for their contributions to the field of documentary film. Nyrabia and el-Jeiroudi's Proaction Film is the only independent doc company in Syria.  

As the New Yorker noted following Nyrabia's arrest, another Syrian filmmaker, Bassel Chehade, was shot dead in the city of Homs in May.

This article is related to: Toronto International Film Festival, Documentary, News


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.