This filmmaker is re-enacting a tragic attack to show the world what Syria faces daily.

On Aug. 21, 2013, filmmaker Humam Husari woke up to one of the most horrific attacks of the Syrian civil war.

The rebel-held region of Ghouta outside Damascus, Syria, was hit by rockets containing sarin gas, a deadly chemical generally considered to be a weapon of mass destruction.

The number of casualties is still uncertain according to the United Nations, but estimates range from 281 to around 1,400 casualties with 3,000 wounded.


Syrian director Humam Husari (right) and cameraman Sami al-Shami (center) film a scene. Photo by Bassam Khabieh/Reuters.

"Survivors reported that following an attack with shelling, they quickly experienced a range of symptoms, including shortness of breath, disorientation, eye irritation, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting and general weakness," reported UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Husari told Al Jazeera he heard car horns and ambulances that morning and saw on Facebook that the attacks happened just a few miles from his home.

He grabbed his video camera and started filming wounded victims in a nearby field hospital.

"I wasn't filming because I am a cameraman, I was filming because this is the only thing I could do for the victims," he told Reuters in 2016.

Journalists rushed to the scene to document the attack. Many of them did not survive because of exposure to the deadly gas. Husari was fortunate enough to survive.

"You don't have the chance to grieve. You don't have the chance to be sad," Husari told Al Jazeera in 2013. "You can just be panicked or worried, and feel helpless."

After the attacks, Husari continued to work as a journalist covering the war. "I feel I have a responsibility in the future to tell this story, these stories, through cinema and drama. That's usually what happens after every war," he told Reuters.

Husari (center left) and al-Shami (center right) operate a camera for a scene in Zamalka, in the Damascus suburbs. Photo by Bassam Khabieh/Reuters.

In 2016, Husari began production on a short film based on real events during the attacks.

The film was shot in Zamalka, a suburb where several rockets struck during the attack. He used local people who survived the attacks, all of whom were either witnesses or victims.

The self-financed film follows a man who loses his wife and child in the attacks and was denied time to bury them. He is then called up to take up arms to defend their region.

Making the film is a necessary experience for Husari.

It offers him an opportunity to process what he went through and also show the world as well.

Actors perform in the Husari-directed film. Photo by Bassam Khabieh/Reuters.

It was an emotional experience making the film. "I was amazed with how much those people were able to express their tragedy and to cooperate with me on this movie," he told Reuters.

People re-enact the attack in a scene from the film. Photo by Bassam Khabieh/Reuters.

Despite all they’ve been through, they were willing to re-enact these terrible events to give voice to those who perished.

Husari told Reuters, "A 70-year-old man said to me: 'I want to be part of this movie because I lost 13 of my family ... I want the world to know what we've been through.'"

The short film involved local people who witnessed the attack. Photo by Bassam Khabieh/Reuters.

The film's star Mohamed Demashki, a former business student and bodybuilder, told Reuters, "It tries to convey to the world that the people who live here are not just fighters, they are not terrorists. They are people with a life. The war conditions them to become fighters," he said.

The Syrian government still denies responsibility for the Ghouta chemical attack.

The film will hopefully help the world understand the plight of everyday people in Syria.

More

Climate change is happening because the earth is warming at an accelerated rate, a significant portion of that acceleration is due to human activity, and not taking measures to mitigate it will have disastrous consequences for life as we know it.

In other words: Earth is heating up, it's kinda our fault, and if we don't fix it, we're screwed.

This is the consensus of the vast majority of the world's scientists who study such things for a living. Case closed. End of story.

How do we know this to be true? Because pretty much every reputable scientific organization on the planet has examined and endorsed these conclusions. Thousands of climate studies have been done, and multiple peer-reviewed studies have been done on those studies, showing that somewhere between 84 and 97 percent of active climate science experts support these conclusions. In fact, the majority of those studies put the consensus well above 90%.

Keep Reading Show less
Nature

As a child, Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia's parents didn't ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Instead, her father would ask, "Are you going to be a doctor? Are you going to be an engineer? Or are you going to be an entrepreneur?"

Little did he know that she would successfully become all three: an award-winning biomedical and mechanical engineer who performs cutting-edge medical research and has started multiple companies.

Bhatia holds an M.D. from Harvard University, an M.S. in mechanical engineering from MIT, and a PhD in biomedical engineering from MIT. Bhatia, a Wilson professor of engineering at MIT, is currently serving as director of the Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine, where she's working on nanotechnology targeting enzymes in cancer cells. This would allow cancer screenings to be done with a simple urine test.

Bhatia owes much of her impressive career to her family. Her parents were refugees who met in graduate school in India; in fact, she says her mom was the first woman to earn an MBA in the country. The couple immigrated to the U.S. in the 1960s, started a family, and worked hard to give their two daughters the best opportunities.

"They made enormous sacrifices to pick a town with great public schools and really push us to excel the whole way," Bhatia says. "They really believed in us, but they expected excellence. The story I like to tell about my dad is like, if you brought home a 96 on a math test, the response would be, 'What'd you get wrong?'"

Keep Reading Show less
Packard Foundation
True

I live in a family with various food intolerances. Thankfully, none of them are super serious, but we are familiar with the challenges of finding alternatives to certain foods, constantly checking labels, and asking restaurants about their ingredients.

In our family, if someone accidentally eats something they shouldn't, it's mainly a bit of inconvenient discomfort. For those with truly life-threatening food allergies, the stakes are much higher.

I can't imagine the ongoing stress of deadly allergy, especially for parents trying to keep their little ones safe.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Amy Johnson

The first day of school can be both exciting and scary at the same time — especially if it's your first day ever, as was the case for a nervous four-year-old in Wisconsin. But with a little help from a kind bus driver, he was able to get over his fear.

Axel was "super excited" waiting for the bus in Augusta with his mom, Amy Johnson, until it came time to actually get on.

"He was all smiles when he saw me around the corner and I started to slow down and that's when you could see his face start to change," his bus driver, Isabel "Izzy" Lane, told WEAU.

The scared boy wouldn't get on the bus without help from his mom, so she picked him up and carried him aboard, trying to give him a pep talk.

"He started to cling to me and I told him, 'Buddy, you got this and will have so much fun!'" Johnson told Fox 7.

Keep Reading Show less
Most Shared