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The Suffering Grasses

Iara Lee / United States - Turkey - Syria / 2012 / 52 ' / Arabic / S.T. English


Emad Maher
Sabah Haider & Iara Lee

Awards & Festivals

Official Selection: TRI CONTINENTS HUMAN RIGHTS FILM FESTIVAL, Johannesburg, Soweto, Cape Town, Tshwane, South Africa 2012
Official Selection: ALEXANDRIA FILM FESTIVAL, Alexandria, Egypt 2012
Official Selection: RIO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, Rio de Janiero, Brazil 2012
Official Selection: ARAB FILM FESTIVAL, San Francisco, California 2012
Official Selection: HUMAN RIGHTS NIGHTS FILM FESTIVAL, Bologna, Italy 2012
Official Selection: PAPUA NEW GUINEA HUMAN RIGHTS FILM FESTIVAL 2012, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea 2012
Official Selection: INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL- AMSTERDAM, Amsterdam, The Netherlands 2012
Official Selection: NEW JERSEY FILM FESTIVAL, New Brunswick, NJ 2013
Official Selection: CINE MIGRANTE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, Buenos Aires, Argentina 2013
Official Selection: REEL AWARENESS FILM FESTIVAL, Toronto, ON, Canada 2013
Official Selection: NAPLES HUMAN RIGHTS FILM FESTIVAL, Naples, Italy 2013

Upcoming Screenings

Stay tuned for upcoming screenings!

In Production

The humanity of Syrian refugees, and their suffering and resilience is explored in this new doc straight from the front lines.


Over a year later, with thousands dead and counting, the ongoing conflict in Syria has become a microcosm for the complicated politics of the region, and an unsavory reflection of the world at large. Against the backdrop of the Arab Spring, NATO’s toppling of Moammar Qaddafi in Libya, and the complicated politics of the region, this film seeks to explore the Syrian conflict through the humanity of the civilians who have been killed, abused, and displaced to the squalor of refugee camps. In all such conflicts, large and small, it is civilians—women and children, families and whole communities—who suffer at the leisure of those in power. While focusing on the plight of those caught in the crossfire of the hegemons, we seek to unravel the conflict by exploring the motivations of its actors—the Ba’athist regime of Bashar al-Assad, the Free Syrian Army and other geopolitical players like the United States, Israel, Russia, China, Iran, Lebanon, Turkey, the Gulf countries... When elephants go to war, it is the grass that suffers. This is a film about the elephants, but made for the grasses.

In May 2012, director Iara Lee participated in a press delegation to the Turkish refugee camps housing Syrian exiles, where she interviewed those who have been most affected by the bloody conflict. Some who fled to the camps identify as militants, others are committed to nonviolent tactics, and many more are just trying to live in peace without repression. Each may have his or her own opinion about the decision of some actors to take up arms, or about whether the international community should try to topple the regime. Ultimately, however, any understanding of the Syrian conflict and its costs should be rooted in recognizing the humanity and suffering of these refugees. This film is one effort to do just that.


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