The 34th Alexandria Film Festival for Mediterranean Countries premiered on Friday featuring Duraid Lahham’s new film ‘Damascus…Aleppo’, directed by Basil Al-Khatib, chosen as the festival’s opening film.
The film was received by a standing ovation by the Egyptian audience and was praised by film critics, and several artists during the first, and the second screening of the film.
Lahham resumed his career in the film industry years after of inactivity. Since the start of the Syrian revolution, the film industry has suffered significantly.
Lahham told Daily News Egypt that the film was shot entirely in Syria, in areas which have witnessed bloody conflict only months ago. He added that the film depicts the story of several Syrian citizens, from various social backgrounds, who travel together on the same bus from Damascus to Aleppo.
Lahham plays the role of a former journalist, on his way to Aleppo to visit his daughter.
During a press conference, the film’s director Basil Al-Khatib said that the film aims to present a different and ‘humane’ nature of Syrians on cinema, contrary to the war narrative.
Lahham was born and raised in Damascus in 1934. He studied chemistry at Damascus University, which qualified him for a well-paying job as an instructor. However, his passion for theatre acting made him start giving dance lessons, and become known to the artistic community in Syria.
When Syrian Television was inaugurated in 1960, its director Sabah Qabbani hired Laham to star in a mini-series called Damascus Evening, with the already established stage actor Nihad Qali.
The two men created a duo called Duraid & Nihad,and achieved dramatic success in the Arab world.
Following that, Lahham acted, directed, and wrote the screenplay for all of his works. Lahham was influenced the political changes in the Middle East, which subsequently influenced his comedy screenplays.
In 1997, in recognition of his two children’s productions, the movie Kafroun (1990) and the play The Happy Bird (1992), he became the UNICEF representative in Syria for children’s affairs. He performed numerous television series aiming to increase awareness of children’s problems. Then in 1999, he became UNICEF Ambassador for Childhood in the Middle East and North Africa.