or the first time in London, the Syrian Arts and Culture Festival (SACF) presents a program of multidisciplinary events, bringing together artists, filmmakers, musicians and performers to celebrate a rich culture that has too often been the subject of narratives. of war and displacement.

The SACF festival, which runs from January 20 to February 7, aims to encourage the Syrian diaspora and other communities to have an open conversation about Syria’s history and the challenges people have faced in pushing the boundaries. through creative art forms. SACF, translated into Arabic, means “roof”, which for Daniela Nofal, one of the co-organizers and curator of the festival, symbolizes the unity of people under a shared roof, where new connections and understandings can take shape.

“Through this festival, we really hope to push boundaries and break boundaries, which many Syrians have sometimes experienced with the limit of expression,” says Nofal. “It is important for us because the Syrians had to cleverly circumvent the limits of expression. and through modern Syrian art, we see artists finding ways to continue to raise important issues, to reflect on conditions, on realities, without being silenced or sidelined. Above all what we have seen over the past 10 years, there has been a rich outpouring of cultural and artistic productions, as Syrians have responded to the difficult realities that many have faced, including uprooting from Syria.

The two-week program includes musical evenings, film screenings – including a screening of Dreams of the City, the semi-autobiographical film by Mohammad Malas, one of Syria’s first filmmakers – workshops and panel discussions, offering audiences in London with alternative narratives about the country. .

Workshop “A taste of Syria”

/ Syrian Arts and Culture Festival

There’s even something for foodies – an interactive Syrian cooking workshop on Sundays. Syrian cuisine includes an abundance of flavors, ingredients, and cooking practices, which are often accompanied by stories and memories of home. Participants will explore Syria’s culinary heritage by preparing a number of dishes under the guidance of Majeda Khouri, founder of the social enterprise Syrian Sunflower.

On February 3, there will be a unique celebration of the Syrian Cassette Archive, an initiative organized not only to preserve musical tapes from Syria’s cassette era (1970s to 2010s), but also to share and search for tapes and analog sounds. The archive houses tape recordings of live concerts, studio albums, soloists, classical, religious, patriotic and children’s music, with a particular focus on regional dabke and shaabi folk-pop music, performed and recorded during weddings, parties and festivities. The collection presents a broad overview of the musical styles of various Syrian communities, including Syrian Arabs, Assyrians, Kurds and Armenians.

Syrian Tapes Archive

/ Syrian Arts and Culture Festival

“Most ancient civilizations come from this region, and that in itself says a lot. Over the past 10 years and even before, the images that are held about Syria, the stories that are told about Syria, I think, do not reflect the richness and diversity of the country and the region,” says Nofal.

“It is important that Syrians can express themselves in a dignified and empowered way, where they own the stories and where they are not spoken in the name of them.

The festival hopes to create a space where people can step forward and reimagine what the future of Syria might look like.

To learn more, visit sacf.art/events