“Little Gandhi: The Lost Truth of The Syrian Uprising” directed and produced by award-winning Sam Kadi (“The Citizen,” 2012) trails the legacy of Ghiyath Matar, a peaceful Syrian civil rights activist who had a mind and heart that was anything but “little.”
The documentary features Matar’s legacy as he led Syrians in his home city Darayya, a suburb of Damascus, to peacefully protest during the early uprisings of the Syrian Revolution in March 2011. Matar was someone who fought bullets with flowers, an iconic figure who led the masses of Syrians into a direction of peace, while fighting for their basic human rights that they until now are desperately deprived of. During each protest that he organized with other activists, Matar laid water bottles for the troops to drink from, attached to the bottles, were flowers and sticky notes reading, “Why are you killing me?”
All throughout the barrel bombs, tear gas, bullets and chemical weapons, protestors continued to march the streets each Friday chanting that they will no longer accept the humiliation that has been brought upon them.
Matar then paid the ultimate price for his bravery. He was captured and tortured to death at the hands of the Syrian government at the age of 26. His death spurred despair and international outrage.
Kadi, a born and bred Syrian, explained that its leaders like Matar deserve to see the spotlight.
“He’s a role model we all need to follow, his peaceful approach represents the young educated Syrians who are fighting for their dignity,” he said. “They marched the streets not because of hunger and starvation, but for their dignity. That’s all they were asking for.”
“Little Gandhi” features a series of interviews with brave fellow activists who knew and grew up with Matar, along with depicting the harsh living standards in Syria and the once flowered villages, now in ruins. The film shows the many atrocities committed against Syrian children and peaceful protestors who wanted nothing but their children to live freely in their country. Like them, Matar fought for a better world for his unborn child, one he never met, because his life was taken too young.
Bashar al-Assad, the dictator of Syria, continues his regime and the slaughtering of hundreds of thousands of Syrians, displacing 7.6 million civilians, along with 4 million that have fled their homeland. On orders behalf of al-Assad, following the death of Matar, the city of Darayya took the worst chemical attack worldwide in twenty years, with 700 civilians killed, the most lives taken in one day than any civil war. Although Matar was killed, other activists continued to honor his legacy by remaining peaceful against governmental forces.
Former Ambassador Robert Ford, who was featured throughout the film said, “Ghiyath was a treasure, his loss is very sad, he was a wise young man, wiser than his 26 years. His vision for Syria is worth remembering and holding onto — that the Syrian people are one people. He died as a martyr to that effort.”
Despite Syrian’s efforts to remain peaceful, civilians were massacred, abducted and tortured. The number of cities in rubble and the outpour of Syrian refugees were overwhelmingly high.
From a city of 250,000 people to a population of 10,000 people, the civilians of Darayya refused to leave the city.
“It is their land,” Kadi said.
“Historians will study how the world stood idly by while thousands of innocent Syrians were led to their slaughter,” Kadi said. “They will be dumb founded on how to explain such inaction and of how 60 percent of Syria was destroyed while the world was watching.”
The film spurred discussion amongst the audience at the screening event.
Former Oakland County Commissioner Mattie Hatchett, who attended the screening, has worked to help Syrian refugees who reside in Pontiac for five years.
“As an African-American woman, as someone who understands struggle, I will do whatever I can to help Syrian people,” she said.
American-Syrian student Tala Al-Saghir, an attendee of the pre-screening who spent her past summers in Syria said, “Seeing the destruction of Syria in the film and trying to attach the image of Syria that I know, with the images I saw in the clips is very hard to imagine. I feel like this film was a wake-up call. The director succeeded in touching our hearts.”
Touching hearts is exactly what Kadi strives for, he said.
“It’s my obligation as a filmmaker to open people’s eyes to something they don’t know about, to clarify issues and to bring the spotlight to activists who deserve it,” Kadi said. “I can’t ignore the issue as a human being and as someone who grew up in Syria.”
The pre-screening for the film, at The Maple Theater, was done to raise funds for Syrian refugees and to ameliorate the severity of their urgent situations. Nonprofit organizations are currently gathering funds to help support the Syrian families.
The film “Little Gandhi” will also be pre-screened on the following dates, but will not officially be released until sometime next year:
Sunday, September 27: Dallas, TX
Saturday, October 3: Chicago, IL
Full article via: The South End