Sofia Amara arrived in Oslo Airport, met by two ladies from Arabian Filmdays. The Airport Express Train ride gave the opportunity for a short conversation about her new documentary Syria – Inside the Repression.
Why is it so important for you to get out the message about what is going on Syria right now?
I find it intolerable that a regime in 2012 can close its borders and kill people freely. It’s our job as journalists to go wherever the civilian population is being assaulted and document it.
How do you feel about the flow of information coming out of Syria? Did your picture of the situation change after being there, seing what happened yourself?
There is no doubt that my picture of the situation changed after being there. Not all videos are to be found on Youtube, so being there was quite different. What made the biggest difference was to understand all the pictures and symbols. As an example: clapping hands means non-violence, something I didn’t know until I went there, witnessed the demonstrations and talked to people.
We’ve heard a lot about the risk attached to being a journalist in Syria. How was your experience? Was it difficult getting in, doing the interviews and film?
The first time i travelled to Syria with regards to this movie, in August 2011, I flew in with a ”flying visa” hoping that no one would recognise me. The second time I went there, al-mukhabbarat (The Secret Intelligence Police in Syria) was quite aware of who I was, so I had to be smuggled in, in the company of young activists. Doing the interviews and filming was not that risky, since almost every syrian today is a amateur journalist, and that made me less recognisable in the crowd.
If you could stop what is happening in Syria, what would you do? Do you think that a military intervention needs to be part of a solution?
I absolutely think that a military intervention has to be part of a solution, but not like it was done in Tripoli and Irak. The goal has to be to prevent Assad from killing the civilian population. Does the president has to go? The situation has reached a point where there is no way back for Bashar al-Assad.
Finally: I’ve heard you’re working on a new project on Syria, can you tell us something about that?
I can’t say much about the project in details, in fear of risking someone’s lives. What I can and would very much like to say is that for a journalist it’s important to continue covering a situation until its end, and that’s what I’m doing with Syria.