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A Portrait of Michel by Christine Gedeon

A Portrait of Michel is an investigative video portrait of my Uncle Michel and the circumstances surrounding his mysterious abduction by the Hafez al-Assad regime in Damascus in 1978. After studying medicine in Toulouse and returning briefly to Syria, regime members abducted him off the streets. They gave no information, including the reason for his abduction, but through witnesses and bribery, we found out he was sent to three different prisons: Mezzeh, Sednaya, and Palmyra. Michel was never seen or heard from since.

A Portrait of Michel, 2023. Digital, black and white, sound, 42.39 min. available at The Film-Makers' Cooperative.

My cousins in Beirut had recently found a pouch that belonged to Michel filled with some of his objects, documents, and random papers. This is all that remains of his belongings. In creating this portrait, I took photographs of these "Objects of Evidence,” and interviewed family regarding who he was and theories on what could have happened. Also included are other found letters, and images from my visit to Toulouse. There, I tracked down his home and addresses in his pouch. Working with this material, I am creating his amorphous portrait, where the viewer can decode what possibly happened. 

This portrait is interrupted by 8mm clips of my family gathering merrily in Northern Syria and Lebanon in 1946. Joyous times before all the tragedies. -- Christine Gedeon

Funding for A Portrait of Michel has been made possible by the Berlin Cultural Senate and Stiftung Kunstfonds, Germany.

A Portrait of Michel is Part 2 of Aleppo: Deconstruction | Reconstruction by Christine Gedeon which was featured in Centerpoint Now, the publication of World Council of Peoples for the United Nations, UN 75th anniversary special edition "Are we there yet?" co-produced with Streaming Museum.


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