Sundance 2023: 5 Seasons of Revolution

Directed by: LINA
Distributed by: TBA

Written by Maria Athayde


“5 Seasons of Revolution” is a guerrilla-style/covert documentary film directed by LINA. The title card that precedes the film is important and sets some of the context for what we are about to see. It states: “events depicted in this film took place between 2011-2015. For the safety of some people featured in this film various techniques including deepfake and blurring were used to conceal their identities”. Then a voiceover tells us in 1982 a massacre happened in Hama, Syria that has been sealed by the police state ever since. 

From there we meet our protagonist and director LINA, a video journalist. We are also introduced to LINA’s friend group: Bassel a filmmaker, Malaz a journalist and podcaster, Rima a social worker, and Susu. Told in five sections or “seasons” the documentary chronicles the Syrian civil war. In season one, LINA conducts her first undercover interview to break the media blackout. In season two, the protests spread in Syria, and LINA and her group start reporting more formally on what is happening on the ground while trying to remain anonymous. In season three, LINA and her team continue to report on the war and the international reaction to the events in Syria. In season four, Rima, one of the group members, is arrested after she protests in front of parliament in broad daylight. In season 5, the group starts to fracture, LINA is arrested, and we learn more about the resistance movement in Aleppo.

The bravery and ideas behind this documentary are commendable. However, its execution is its biggest weakness. An interesting aspect that was explored in passing were the different aliases LINA used, in different cities, to obtain information and conduct her reporting. “5 Season of Revolution” focuses on her and her friend group to the detriment of a larger story. While audiences may connect with specific characters and their very personal stories in the broader context of the war this presentation will appear superficial. Even though the documentary is divided into five sections, or seasons, it is challenging to keep track of the timeline as events unfold. Current events aficionados will find the most enjoyment in this film because they will be more familiar with the subject matter, others might find it a bit more challenging and things will get lost in translation.

“5 Seasons of Revolution” was screened as part of the 2023 edition of the Sundance Film Festival.

You can follow Maria Manuella Pache de Athayde on LetterboxdSerializd, Twitter, and view more of what she’s up to here.

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