Sundance 2022 Capsule Review: Warsha

Written by Patrick Hao


Dania Bdeir’s Warsha is able to say a lot in its limited run time, although context is needed to make a full meal out of this short film. The film follows a Syrian migrant in Lebanon tasked with operating a dangerous crane. Often, these refugees are tasked with these difficult and hazardous operations. Along with that comes the little indignities of name-calling and scornful eyes. Once up there, the unnamed Syrian begins to imagine the freedom that he is not afforded in reality as he imagines himself performing a beautiful aerialist routine.

In a meta-narrative, the performer starring in the short is Khansa, the famed Lebanese queer belly dancer. In the last five years, he has engendered controversy in his home country that often does not tolerate such gender-breaking performances. Yet, Khansa has embraced his version of drag through YouTube and other online means to explore gender fluidity and dance. Bdeir uses his physicality to full effect as the fantasy sequences offer full freedom of movement and space. Washed away are any prejudices when you are lost in the performance in the sky.

On Bdeir’s own web page, she describes her relationship with Lebanon as being a love/hate. She understands the beauty of the country while acknowledging all the ugliness around it. The same can be said with Warsha. The prejudices are as ugly as it gets. But, when viewed from the sky, seeing the country on the horizon, the beauty, the potential is immense.

Warsha is a passionate, personal work, one that can be extended beyond its present short run time.

Warsha was screened as part of the 2022 edition of the Sundance Film Festival.

You can follow Patrick and his passion for film on Letterboxd and Twitter.

Leave a Reply