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In Collaboration with Ettijahat - Independent culture, Celebrating Syria invites you for an evening that will transport you to Syria. The two films Double Vision and Sugar Cage, followed by a post-screening discussion with the filmmakers.

Double Vision, 2021, 25 min, Arabic with English subtitles

A documentary that follows and expands the map of the Syria-Lebanon rally that began in 1974 and later ended abruptly due to war. The film uses different media, such as animation and documentary material filmed between 2008 and 2011, along a path that runs parallel to that of the rally. The map ends at the meeting point of the two paths, where everyone encountered along the way joins the rally team, including the army, belligerent parties and owners of rest stops.

Sugar Cage, 2019, 60 min, Arabic with English subtitles

In an attempt to record a standstill time, Zeina Al Qahwaji trains her camera to examine the intimate life of her ageing parents over the course of 8 years since the beginning of a civil movement followed by a war in Syria. Observing scenes of isolation, fear and stagnancy that overshadow life at home. Yet they are still equated with enough sensibilities and love bonding them together against the heaviness of time and war.

Ibraheem Ramadan is a Syrian visual artist born in Damascus in 1981. He studied Information and Journalism at the University of Damascus, but he has instead been working in animation since 2006 with Star Animation Studios in Syria. He initially worked as a storyboard artist and later as an art director in 2009, before becoming an independent filmmaker. In 2012, Ramadan moved to Lebanon to pursue his career as a visual artist with several organisations, including BBC Media Action, Al Jazeera Documentary Channel and Asala Publishers. He then moved to France, where he worked with Amnesty International. In his artistic work, Ramadan merges documentary and fictional material and resorts to crossover between reality and animation, particularly through the stop-motion technique. He often uses automobiles as the main axis and protagonists of his films and presentations. In 2017, Ramadan began writing Double Vision, a short multimedia film. He has been living in France since 2018.

Zeina Al Qahwaji is a Syrian documentary filmmaker.  She started working in the documentary film industry in 2010. In 2017, she obtained her master degree in documentary filmmaking at the DOC NOMADS Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree program. She has recently completed her first feature-length documentary Sugar Cage, and she is in the process of developing her next feature.


Double Vision

Director: Ibraheem Ramadan

Scriptwriters: Mohammed Muhktar, Ibraheem Ramadan, Julia Bruton

Producer: Julia Bruton, Ibraheem Ramadan

Voice over: Masa Zaher

Mastering and sound design: Maen Rajab

2D animator: Sawsan Nourallah

Sugar Cage

Director: Zeina Al Qahwaji

Screenwriter: Zeina Al Qahwaji

Producer: Ali Hamoud, Zeina Al Qahwaji

Cinematographer: Zeina Al Qahwaji

Editor: Raya Yamsha

Sound design: Raed Younan


Building on 4 years of success, culminating in an entirely virtual festival in December 2020, Rethink Rebuild Society persists with its creative mission, showcasing the talent and creativity of Syrian artists in the UK and presenting a truly bright image of Syria and its culture and heritage, an image that has long been neglected amidst the war and the refugee crisis.

The 5th Celebrating Syria Festival will take place from 11-26 March 2022 and will be a hybrid of events held online and in person. It will feature, among other activities, an art exhibition, a theatre performance, live music, films, panel discussions and interactive art workshops, and will end with a family fun day. There will be something for everyone.

The theme of this year’s festival is ‘Distance’, or Masafat مسافات in Arabic, a title that is ‘inspired’ by social distancing measures imposed on us all as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, where isolation and distance became the norm and many people stayed away from loved ones. ‘Distance’ also sums up the experiences of many Syrian and non-Syrian people, forcibly displaced, exiled or refugees around the world as a result of injustice.

With this theme in mind, the festival uses arts and culture to challenge physical, emotional and cultural distance and barriers, bringing people closer to one another, reducing isolation, alienation and marginalisation and reinforcing dialogue and integration in the multicultural society of Manchester and the UK at large.


We are committed to making Celebrating Syria accessible to everyone. For each ticketed event three different prices are available, following the ‘solidarity economy’ approach. The highest price is intended for high waged, the middle price for low and medium waged and the lowest price (always £1) for unwaged. This means you can choose the price that suits you. By choosing a higher price, if you can afford it, you are supporting the festival and enabling lower earners to attend festival events. We base our ticketing structure on trust, so no evidence of income is required. As usual, asylum seekers can attend all events for free. If you require free tickets, please contact or on 0161 222 9779. 


If you have any access needs you want to discuss with us, please call the box office Monday to Friday between 10 – 10pm on 0161 274 0600.

Alternatively, you can email the box office on, or get in touch via direct message on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram (@contactmcr on all three platforms).

This festival has been possible through generous funding from Arts Council England.

  • Price
    £5 high waged / £3 medium waged / £1 low waged - scroll down to learn more
  • Venue

    Contact, Oxford Road, Manchester, M15 6JA

  • Ages
  • Running
    120 minutes
Date Time & Place
Saturday 19 March 4:00pm
Sold out