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Samir Zikra

Born in Beirut in 1945 and raised in Aleppo, Syria, author, screenwriter and director, Samir Zikra has proven a prolific filmmaker. A 1973 graduate of the Russian State Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) , Zikra’s early short films include al-Sakran Yanfi (The Drunk Denies) based on a story by Naguib Mahfouz, and al-Matar Sabe‘en (Airport 70) adapted from a story by Arthur Hailey.

While Zikra was completing his military service, the 1973 war with Israel erupted. From 1974 to 1976 Zikra directed several documentary films centering on that experience, including Lan Nansa (We Will Not Forget), al-Shuhud (The Witnesses), al-Bahr Jabhatuna al-Gharbiyya (The Sea, Our Western Front). In 1977, he co-authored the script for Baqaya Suwar (Fragments, 1979) based on a novel by Syrian author Hanna Mina. In 1980, he directed a documentary on the everyday struggles of women in contemporary Syrian society, Anha’ (On Her). In 1981, he directed Hadithat el-Nosf Metr (The Half-Meter Incident), adapted from a novel by the same title by Sabri Moussa.

Considered a watershed for a generation of new filmmakers in Syria, Hadithat el-Nosf Metr heralded the turn to auteur cinema with its unapologetic social and political reading of Syrian society. The film was selected at the Venice Film Festival (Italy), Berlinale (Germany), Journées Cinématographiques de Carthage (Tunisia) and Valencia Mediterranean Film Festival (Spain), where it earned the bronze Olive.

In 1983, Zikra co-authored the script for Mohammad Malas's first feature, Ahlam al-Madina (Dreams of the City, 1983). In 1986, he directed his second fiction feature, Waqae‘h al-‘Am al-Muqbel (Chronicles of the Coming Year, 1985). This film also traveled widely on the festival circuit, earning awards and acclaim.

Zikra then worked for several years in television until returning to cinema to direct the historical epic, Turab al-Ghuraba’ (Land for A Stranger), in 1998. The film, which recounts the life of one of the late Ottoman Levant's most influential intellectuals Abdel-Rahman al-Kawakibi, earned the first prize at the Cairo International Film Festival, among others. Zikra’s most recent feature, 'Alaqat ‘Aamah (Public Relations), was released in 2005.