Sundance 2023: Against the Tide, Smoke Sauna Sisterhood, 5 Seasons of Revolution | Festivals & Awards


One harrowing sequence that lasts at least five minutes, shown without a single cut, sees a woman telling a story of how she was raped as young teenager and then assaulted again that same night. She recalls each moment from this terrible night with exacting detail, both of the events as they occurred, and her emotional state during and after. She ends her tale with a plea: “I want to protect my daughter from all of this, but how can I?”

Even in the modern world, women often find themselves attacked by the same violence and traumas of their foremothers, just in new ways. But if this cycle must continue, so, too, must the healing process. This is why sacred places matter. This is why community matters. The strength of knowing others understand your pain can help fortify you deep in your soul. This is the heart of Hints’ bittersweet yet empowering film.

Chants take on a different meaning altogether in “5 Seasons of Revolution,” as demonstrators call for a united Syria, the end of killing, and in some cases are forced to celebrate Syrian president Bashar in order to gain freedom from detainment. Director Lina, who uses the moniker for anonymity purposes, chronicles the lives of her friends as they band together to form an activist group. Lina uses footage shot from 2011 through 2015, some documenting their political discussions in the safety of their apartments, as well as harrowing on-the-ground footage of beaten protestors, army tanks, and even the aftermath of bombshell-ravaged neighborhoods.

Lina sets the story by telling of the Hama Massacre, which occurred in 1982, a year before her birth. Through a series of slideshows, we learn about her life and her path to independent video journalism. Lina’s voiceover narration gives the film an essay-like quality as she describes the events with the kind of insight that comes with distance. The film is split between the titular five seasons, beginning with the hope her cohorts felt during the Arab Spring, with violence and hopelessness escalating through each further season. 

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