While ARK works with partners, we also initiate and resource projects we feel strongly about:
Art and Activism: A Syrian Filmmaker’s Journey
In the spring of 2011, when Syrians took to the streets of Damascus to demand peace and freedom for their country, university graduate Ahmed Wardeh was among the first to join their ranks and to be targeted by the regime.
“They destroyed our villages and our homes and killed our friends,” he recalled. Like so many other Syrians, Ahmed was forced to flee across the border into neighbouring Turkey. Leaving behind his homeland, “was one of the hardest decisions of my life,” he explained.
Ahmed, an aspiring filmmaker, was eventually introduced to ARK through its stringer and research network. It marked the beginning of a journey that would see the young man, who left Syria with nothing, win artistic acclaim.
Most recently, he was nominated to the jury of the prestigious French film festival, Les Rencontres Documentaires de l'IRTS de Lorraine.
What we did:
With ARK’s support, including ongoing mentorship, training and the purchase of equipment, Ahmed now mentors other young filmmakers across the Arab world and refugees in Europe, sharing his expertise in filmmaking, visual effects, and 3D animation.
Many of his family and friends are still struggling inside Syria to survive. Even those who found refuge abroad have faced challenges trying to build new lives. Ahmed's work to document their stories and has earned him a string of accolades, including his film Goal for Syria screened at Cannes. His work has been viewed more than two million times online.
In his most recent film, My New Home, funded by ARK, Ahmed sheds light on the plight of Syrian refugees in Europe. He travelled to Belgium, France and Germany, where he highlighted the issues Syrians face and the opportunities they find in their new countries.refugees. “To be a refugee is not a choice…to be an active and good refugee is a choice,” he said.
He also speaks to Tarek and Sandra, originally from Damascus, who now live in Strasbourg, France. They produce a programme for ARTE, the Franco-German TV channel, where they talk about issues facing refugees and offer advice.
“Living in Europe means that my family has medical insurance, residency, access to schools and to knowledge and security,” Ahmed says. “Most important to me, as a filmmaker, I am free to express my opinion without any harm. So are the people I film.”
The conflict has deepened his commitment to his art, which is the tool for his activism. “Film is what I use to express my thoughts, to share my belief in a better world, full of peace and free from war and hate,” he said.
As Syria endures its seventh year of war, with every passing day, his work feels more urgent.
"I am grateful to everyone who supported me, my mother and father, my family and also ARK. It is my honour to raise the name of Syria and the Syrian people in a positive way."