Directed by: Sufian Abulohom
Documentary Film Review by: Chris Olson
Tackling the devastating social effect of the Yemen civil war, this short documentary from filmmaker Sufian Abulohom is an emotionally ferocious undertaking that wrestles brilliantly with the crippling fear of living through a war zone and the impossibility of forgiving those who have dropped bombs on your family and community.
Yemen: The Silent War starts with some harrowing figures about the conflict. And whilst this technique is commonplace in documentary films, the statistics of the number of people affected are no less tragic or compelling. The titular “silent” aspect of the civil war in Yemen perhaps refers largely to the use of drones, a tactic which has left a traumatising effect on the Yemeni people, especially children who remain terrified by them. The silence may also refer to the shockingly large number of innocent refugees who have been displaced by the war, whose suffering seems of little importance to those fighting.
To visually represent the tragic situation in Yemen, Abulohom has chosen to superimpose hand drawn animations of children playing over the Yemen landscape. Activities such as flying a kite on a beach or playing hopscotch take on a brutal poignancy when combined with the haunting narrative being described by victims.
The use of the refugee camp in Yemen: The Silent War is intelligently done. At first sight, the place seems like a tragic loading ground for the country’s forgotten people. However, as it’s occupiers begin to describe the sanctuary the place has offered them, as well as their conflicting ideas on whether they could ever return home after everything that has happened, a strange sense of community reveals itself that reminds the audience that families live here. As one mother in the documentary notes, her only wish, as is any mother’s, is that her children are safe.
Abulohom drives home his message with a final act which is harshly candid. The broken hearted survivors of terrible bombings state that too many have perished for them to forgive either side. The blame lies with all the participants, all of whom are guilty of ruining thousands of lives with their violent campaigns against the other side without any thought to the treatment of innocent men, women and children. Concluded with some more obscenely awful statistics about the humanitarian crisis which rages on in the nation.
The horror of war told from those most affected and defenseless, Yemen: The Silent War is a documentary that is viscerally sorrowful, a moving indictment of the warmongers of the world, whose unyielding violence and greed cares little for the precious lives of those in most need of protection.
Watch the official movie trailer below…