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Under the Sky of Damascus

Fall Grants 2022 - Post-Production Stage

Talal Derki / Feature Documentary / Syria, Denmark, United States of America, United Kingdom, Qatar / 84 min / Original Language: Arabic / Interests: Documentary


‘Under the Sky of Damascus’ centres on a tight-knit group of young Syrian women embarking on a radical and dangerous project. They come together secretly in war-weary Damascus to build a play based on explosive first-person testimony gathered from countless women across the country. Co-directors Talal Derki and Heba Khaled—both targets of the Syrian regime—oversee the film and send crew to capture their journeys. Requiring the utmost discretion, the activists’ conversations reveal a rampant and devastating crisis of domestic and workplace violence against women, much of it unreported due to fear of retaliation. Women of all socio-economic backgrounds tell variations of the same harrowing tale—they’re routinely beaten, blackmailed, and even imprisoned by husbands, brothers, employers and fathers who wield unchecked patriarchal power.

Acclaimed filmmakers Talal and Heba (‘Of Fathers and Sons’) continue their immersive probe into Syria, shifting their lens towards a silenced majority of women whose individual stories weave together a damning tapestry of abuse. From these interviews, as well as from strikingly filmed verité sequences inside public institutions within Damascus and beyond, we see, firsthand, how a country’s subjugation of women crosses generations and feeds rampant bureaucratic and economic corruption. ‘Under the Sky of Damascus’ proves that unchecked abuse directly correlates with the coercion and graft central to Syria’s authoritarian government. But at the same time, the film’s directors must reckon with a shocking revelation within their own team. Just as they and their subjects make enormous strides, a confession from one of their protagonists shatters their collective mission and forces all involved to confront the very exploitation they’ve been transcribing from women across the country.


Heba Khaled, Talal Derki, Ali Wajheed
Heba Khaled, Talal Derki
Heba Khaled, Sigrid Dyekjaer, Beth Earl
Production Company
Jouzour Film Production UG mbH

About the Director

Talal Derki was born in Damascus and has been based in Berlin since 2013. He studied film directing in Athens and worked as an assistant director through many feature film productions as well as producer and co-producer. He was Oscar-nominated in 2019 and became a member of the Academy. He was the winner of the German Film Awards, ‘Lola’, in 2019. Talal Derki’s short films and feature-length documentaries received many awards at various festivals. Both of his films’ Return to Homs’ and ‘Of Fathers and Sons’ won the Grund Jury Award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2014 and 2018.


  • Main Contact

    Sigrid Dyekjær

    Real Lava

Questions regarding this project?


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