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Mona’s wedding day is the saddest day of her life.
She knows that once she crosses into Syria she can never return home to Israel, her village, or her family. From that moment on, she is destined to live the rest of her life in Damascus, an intimidating, unfamiliar city. The husband with whom she’ll be sharing her life may be a popular television star, but Mona doesn’t know a thing about him.
“The Syrian Bride” is the story of a marriage, set in the village, Majdal Shams, in the Israeli occupied Golan Heights near the border between Israel and Syria. It’s told from the point of view of Amal, Mona’s older sister, a free spirit trapped in a foreign land and body, a woman who dreams of other times and places. Mona’s crisis is a turning point in her sister’s life. From today onward she can never go back to what she was before. “The Syrian Bride” is the story of how a family on the brink of disintegration is put to the test. There is both affinity and alienation, yet all around them people and forces are at work with vastly differing degrees of understanding and sensitivity, or lack thereof. There’s a young Syrian president, a tired Israeli bureaucrat, a representative of the Israeli armed forces, a corresponding officer across the border and a French woman whose passion for a quest for universal justice faded a long time ago. And there are the family members: the tough, political father, the playboy brother, the excommunicated elder brother who flies in from Moscow with his Russian wife, and Amal’s loathed husband. The events and decisions that must be made envelop what should have been the happiest moment in a young girl’s life in a cloak of uncertainty and misapprehension, leaving her caught in a perpetual trap. A young bride is on her way towards the unknown, while all around her forces are at work. By the end of her wedding day she will be left sitting on a plastic chair in no-man’s land between the borders, unable to fulfill her dream, and all because the wrong seal was stamped on her travel documents: a seal that the Syrians refuse to accept, that the Israelis refuse to amend. She sits alone, even though she is surrounded by her father, her brothers, and all her other relatives, because her family is falling apart. Only her elder sister Amal exits from this day a brand new woman. Now she knows that tomorrow is a new day and the future is hers. It’s an uncertain future to be sure, just like the future of the entire region, but somewhere down the road there is the hope for change.
“The Syrian Bride” unfolds on Mona’s wedding day, from five in the morning until five in the morning of the following day when Amal wakes up to write her diary. But, on this particular morning, her thoughts are full of hope. During the twenty-fours of the wedding, we will be introduced to the epic human drama of a village living on the border, neither here nor there. It is the story of a family torn apart by questions of tradition, politics, and prejudice. It is the story of bonds and the lack of bonds between the Israelis, Druze, Syrians and French, who play a part in a huge tableau in a small and God-forsaken place.
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