Feature: Artist sees life in wartime Syria through "crow's eye"

2021-10-11 16:05:57 GMT2021-10-12 00:05:57(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

by Hummam Sheikh Ali

DAMASCUS, Oct. 11 (Xinhua) -- In Syria, a war-torn country, a filmmaker and cinematographer has been taking photos on the rooftops to document people's daily life, describing himself as having the "eye of the crow."

"If it were not for the war, I would never have the eye of crow, which is a bad omen in the Syrian culture," said Omar Malas.

When the majority of media outlets were concentrating on guns and battles, Malas wanted to focus on the war-weary people and their daily lives. "People walking to their jobs every day or the workers at their shops, were the people who were victimized the most by the war and had nothing to do with it," he said.

The slim, tall man with a ponytail has been living in a rented rooftop flat in the capital Damascus since before the war. When the situation turned tense and mortar shells started raining down, with explosions rattling the once-peaceful capital, he nested on his rooftop observing the surroundings from his high sanctuary like the many crows on the roof.

"I started observing life from above to see the people, what they were doing or where they were going. I noticed that on the rooftop, there were many crows and I realized I had become like them. They were looking for food and I was looking for photos," he said.

At that time, the 37-year-old, who had studied filmmaking in Paris before, found the cinema language unable to help him describe the daily life in Damascus. He turned to photography to convey the emotions in the faces of people.

During the war, Malas used to frequent a cafe near his house in the Shalaan neighborhood, where he would drink the morning coffee and use his laptop to process the photos and use the cafe internet amid the electricity outages in the area.

Malas said he is part of Damascus just like the crow, as both of them refused to leave the Syrian capital during the war.

"It is our right to live in our city," he said.

"When I take a shot, I could see a lot of fear, but I also could see faith in the faces of the people, a very strong faith," the Syrian artist added.

Malas recently published a photo book, titled Eye of the Crow, which combines a selection of his best photos taken in wartime Syria.

Malas told Xinhua that the eye of the crow will not last forever, and that one day he would have his original eye back when the war is over.

"If happiness returns to the hearts of the people, I will take photos of their smiles," he said. Enditem