Evgeny Afineevsky Interview: ‘Cries from Syria’ director
“I tried to answer a simple question: who are these people, and why are they coming,” reveals director Evgeny Afineevsky as we spoke via webcam (watch the exclusive video above) about “Cries from Syria.” This HBO documentary examines the brutal five-year civil war in Syria, which in turn led to the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis. Afineevsky drew from hundreds of hours of footage shot by activists and journalists, as well as testimonies from children, revolutionaries, humanitarians, and high-ranking military defectors to weave a comprehensive tapestry of what led to the country’s unrest.
The director, who was born in the former USSR, sees a lot of shocking similarities in his film to what’s happening in the USA under President Donald Trump. “We’re already stepping on the toes of our freedom of speech,” he states in regards to Trump’s recent threat to revoke broadcasting licenses from news networks that air unfavorable coverage of him. “At the end of the day, we can see the parallels between Syria and the United States.”
Afineevsky competed at the Oscars and the Emmys for his documentary “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom” (2015). That film, which chronicled the three-month protests in Ukraine that led to 100 deaths and the removal of then-president Viktor Yanukovich, has been shown in Venezuela as a guide for how to deal with their own crisis. “Cries from Syria” received three nominations at the Critic’s Choice Documentary Awards, including Best Documentary, Best Director, and Best Song for “Prayers for This World,” performed by Cher and written by Diane Warren.