“We choose without really choosing,” asserts Soudade Kaadan, the visionary director behind “Nezouh”, a movie about a young girl’s determination to stay rooted in her homeland, Syria, despite adversity.


The movie was recently screened by the EU during the ‘HAKAWATI’ cultural agenda of the Brussels VII conference on Syria. For Soudade, this was a “defining moment” for the film. Despite being unable to attend in person due to bureaucratic challenges, she connected with the audience via Zoom, engaging in a poignant dialogue about the film’s themes.

“I wanted to show that Syrians are not just victims, but complex human beings with a wide range of emotions, including hope,” Soudade explains, saying she sought to create a film where Syrian audiences could resonate with the characters, breaking away from the stereotypes often associated with their narratives.

Soudade’s cinematic journey explores the complexities of life in a war-torn Syria, including the strength of Syrians to hold onto their identity even in the face of displacement. “We can tell our stories in a different way, with humour,” the director insists, emphasising her dedication to portraying Syrians as “artists” and “storytellers”.

Casting for Nezouh was a meticulous process, Soudade recalls, particularly for the lead character of Zeina. The main challenge was finding a young actress who could embody the film’s spirit of hope and resilience. “I chose her [Hala Zein] because she wasn’t afraid. She’s the strongest of the whole team,” Saadade shares passionately.

With limited access to theatres and audiences in the Arab world, Soudade stresses the importance of the EU’s support to keep telling Syrian stories in a way that resonates universally. “I am proud to see that this film has been distributed in Switzerland, France or Italy, but also that Syrian youth living abroad can be involved in sharing similar messages through events like HAKAWATI,” she concludes.

TANDEM Media Awards

EU Neighbours South is launching the 2nd edition of the TANDEM Media Awards, a regional media contest, funded by the European Union (EU). The competition is based on the concept of collaborations between pairs. The theme of TANDEM Media Awards is culture, an area in which the EU is active through different types of support and contributions.