It is rare that a documentary or film move me. My father was an Assyrian from Iran, my mother is Lebanese and I grew up in 1980s America and came of age in the 1990s. I know of what it is like to not be wanted in the old world or the new. Over there, I am a constant reminder of a past they want to be ignore and here I’m an unpleasant sand nigger who doesn’t know his place.
When Sargon Saadi, an Assyrian from Syria made the documentary Silence After the Storm, my initial reaction was, “Hey, at least someone is talking about us.” Then I saw it and cried for 20 of the 25 minute run time. This story has continuously been happening since the fall of the empire with conquest after conquest in the region, broken promises from foreign powers and continuous neglect that has thus far lost us a quarter of a million people since 2013.
Saadi, doesn’t try to sway opinion by using visual tropes to subliminally way their opinion. He simply shows the audience life and endurance of the people who remain in the Fertile Crescent.
Silence After the Storm touches on the lives of several Assyrians who endure the suffering or have fled and returned to their homeland. One standout was a little boy named Andraos (Andrew) who first became a refugee in Iraq and after his family fled to Syria for safety, DAESH arrived and forced him to displaced for a second time.
Fadi Khiyo is an artist who primarily works in clay. The young man makes art as not only his therapy in dealing with the horrors of this 6 year war in Syria but the suffering of being a stranger in his homeland. Savina Dawood is an Assyrian-Iraqi activist that couldn’t take the hell her people faced and left Chicago for the Nineveh Plains to help as best she can between both the Eastern and Western worlds, bringing attention to what is happening in Iraq.
One moment in particular that made me pause the film was when Dr. Nicholas Al-Jeloo Ph.D., an Assyrian-Australian visited his grandfather’s village in Hakkari, Turkey during the 100th Anniversary of the Christian Genocide where 3.5 million Armenians, Assyrians and Levant Greeks were lost. The tour guide said to Dr. Al-Jeloo, “You are not a guest, this is your land. Your grandfather and my grandfather could have been friends. We can be friends.”
These powerful words shook me to my core. How many people who are either immigrants or first generation born Americans long to hear any variation of, “You are home.”?
In 25 minutes Saadi tells one of the most compelling stories of some of the most forgotten people and for that we are grateful.
Silence After the Storm
- Overall Score
A documentary in the truest sense of the word. Sargon Saadi touches on the lives of the Assyrian people in the Diaspora as they continue to suffer in the Fertile Crescent more than 100 years after the genocide.