Segments in this Video

Bombed Out City (02:23)


When the Syrian Civil War occurred, the city of Homs was called "The Capital of the Revolution" because its citizens sang and danced in the face of army tanks. Talel Derki recalls how important the city is to him and wonders if he will ever see it again. (Credits)

Protestors Sing, Dance and Chant (02:29)

Ossama Al Homsi records Abdul Basset Saroot inspiring the crowd at a protest on Stadium Street in Homs. Derki first arrived in Syria in March 2011 to work as a media activist. Watch a recording from August 1st 2011 where the military fired teargas on protesters— Adnan Abdul Dayen, a peaceful protester, was killed that night.

Goalkeeper by Trade (02:30)

At his first sit-in, Al-Sarout provoked the snipers, chanting at them. Watch him lead and sing a protest calling for heroes of martyrdom and victory. He is revered by the people of Homs.

Wanting Freedom and Dignity (02:13)

Al-Sarout discusses how the protesters were victorious in removing a corrupt mayor from office. Al Homsi describes how he videotaped a local hospital by pretending he was talking on the phone. Al-Sarout's popularity with Syrian Citizens made the regime put him on the most wanted list for terrorism and other atrocities.

Family Home Destroyed (04:09)

Al-Sarout and his parents escape the neighborhood of Bayada before the military could arrest him— his brother, Walid, and several cousins were killed during the raid. Al-Sarout refuses to meet Bashar and appear on Al-Dunia TV. The military creates a checkpoint on Cairo Street where Al-Sarout travels to his demonstrations.

A Child Martyr (03:28)

The resistance discovers a child killed on Wadi Arab Street. The men curse Bashar, pray over the dead boy, and decide to wash away the blood before returning him to his family. Al-Sarout receives a call and learns they will soon receive an influx of money for food and guns; he rewards Abu Omar with a new song of revolution.

Nighttime Crossing (02:01)

Al-Sarout and his friends cross a military checkpoint while a sniper sprays bullets overhead. The driver refuses to stay with Al-Sarout, because his family will be worried.

Heroes of the Cause (03:09)

Al-Sarout visits a doctor who had to perform a urinary and coronary catheterization early in the morning. Watch as a resistance member arrives in need of urgent care. After he is declared dead, the men give him a martyr's procession.

Protests and Dancing (01:52)

Watch Al-Sarout perform another song during a protest rally. On February 4th 2012, the Khalediya massacre occurred— the military shelled the neighborhood with mortar grenades, executing men, women, and children. The peaceful protests ended and violence erupted.

Shells Fall Near Rijai Mosque (02:34)

The military raided the area at 7am and killed those trying to cross Settin Street. Families sought shelter in other cities— only the rebels and the poorest families remained. Members of the resistance now turned their weapons on the military and used passageways through destroyed homes to travel throughout the city.

Army Controlled Bayada (02:05)

The army now controls Bayada and Al Homsi is supervising a field hospital for the rebels. No one has heard from Al-Sarout for two months, but the rebels believe he is located near the Cairo Street front. Derki travels the passageways through destroyed homes to locate Al-Sarout.

Al-SaroutShows Off His Gun (02:16)

Al-Sarout explains how the military tried to overtake the area, but the insurgents still control it. The rebels shoot the military from the top floor and retreat to the ground floor when the army mortars them.

More Than Buildings Destroyed (02:01)

Al Homsi was injured by shrapnel, thought he was going to die, and said goodbye to his friends. Watch footage of the rebels protesting and fighting back the military.

Liberating Governmental Buildings (02:18)

The rebels proceeded to win some minor victories, grew in numbers, began receiving donations from abroad, but did not manage to secure their support lines. A man complains about Al-Sarout using guns instead of peacefully protesting. Al Homsi recuperates in the hospital.

UN Arrives (02:22)

The United Nations comes to observe the damage, but only spends 30 minutes in Homs and refuses to travel into Bayada as the rebels wanted. Al-Sarout complains on the telephone. Al Homsi leaves the hospital but still has shrapnel embedded in his elbow.

Looking for a Lens (03:05)

Al-Sarout explains that Kamel needs to ask for donations for ammunition and supplies at tonight's meeting. Al Homsi and Al-Sarout visit his destroyed home which is now a front-line for the conflict. Ossama combs through the rubble as Al-Sarout sings.

Rebels Welcome Back Al Homsi (02:12)

Al Homsiis surprised by how much Homs changed while he was recuperating. All Its residents now carry weapons and talk about battles he missed. When he needs to be alone he takes his camera and explores the city.

Tanks Patrol the Streets (03:18)

Al-Sarout describes being on top of a building only to discover it is collapsing. "The Men of Zeer Street" sing about rejecting Bashar's rule and begging Kofi Annan to help them.

Injuries and Deaths (03:27)

Issa dies during a conflict with the military; a sniper shoots Al-Sarout in the foot, and the plan to liberate Bayada falls. Al Homsi prays at Khaled Ibn Al-Walid's grave. The rebels grieve Issa's death.

Rebels Welcome Back Al-Sarout (02:15)

Al-Sarout sings during a rally. Derki writes explaining he published Al Homsi's photographs of the destruction on Cairo Street internationally and hopes it will help, but the world just watches the rebels get killed.

June 9th, 2012 (02:44)

The liberated areas get cut off from supplies and the rebels move their food into the safety of the basements. Al Homsi was detained traveling to a hospital and vanished. The rebels decide to unite and make it "hell" for the military to seize the area.

Al-Sarout Fires on the Military (02:41)

The rebels carry an injured man to a truck as shells bombard the area. A loudspeaker announces that Muhammed Ali has died. Al-Sarout rips a new hole into a wall.

Frustration Sets in (03:45)

Al-Sarout loads an RPG- 7 and wonders if he has the energy to continue to fight because all his close friends are gone. His sister calls and explains that Midyan has died.

Unable to Enter Homs (02:31)

The Free Syrian Army wants to attempt to enter Bayada. Al-Sarout reviews the attack strategy and sings to encourage the rebels.

Rumors Al-Sarout Died (02:16)

The Besieged rebels need to attack at the same time— Derki is concerned for Al-Sarout's safety. Watch footage from the incursion when the military surprises them with a counterattack. The rebels were surrounded and dug a tunnel allowing them to escape back to Cairo Street.

Surveying the Rubble (03:39)

Al-Sarout explains that women and children still live in Khalediya and bodies of martyrs lie unburied on the city streets. He looks out at the apartment he used to share with Abu Adnan. He wonders if he will be able to shave before he dies.

Al-Sarout Persuaded to Leave Homs (02:58)

Al-Sarout sneaks out of Homs through a sewer. The army discovers his escape route and seals it. Al-Sarout plans to re-enter Homs through a tunnel and encourages his men to join him.

Enlisting Help (03:24)

Five new soldiers decide to join Al-Sarout in re-entering Homs. Al-Sarout spends time with his family while waiting for more men and supplies. His mother explains that she would never leave Homs if she could go back.

Leaving For Homs (02:17)

Al-Sarout's old friends agree to return with limited supplies and insufficient ammunition. Al-Sarout throws a grenade onto the soldiers behind the wall. Several of the rebels are injured or die during the confrontation.

Al-Sarout is Shot Again (03:09)

The doctor is able to re-attach one of the tendons, but could not re-connect the others. Al-Sarout cries for the blood of his fallen brothers and hopes it is not in vain. He hopes to become a martyr for the cause.

Derki Returns to Homs (03:08)

Derki used to pass Homs while traveling to Damascus and never gave the city a thought, but it has become precious to him. Al Homsi was detained over a year ago and the rebels do not know where he is. Al-Sarout's foot has healed, but he will not play or coach football, because he wants to become a martyr or blacksmith.

Going Into Homs (02:56)

Al-Sarout checks the supplies and sings to encourage the "Bayada Martyrs." The rebels re-enter Homs, but Al-Sarout's uncle and brother were killed. The siege ended on May 14th, 2014 when the rebels agreed to evacuate the city.

Credits: Return to Homs (01:53)

Credits: Return to Homs

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Return to Homs

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Nineteen-year-old Basset is the goalkeeper for the Syrian national soccer team. When revolution breaks out the charismatic young man becomes an iconic protest leader and singer. Osama is a 24-year-old media activist and pacifist wielding his camera to document the revolution. But when their beloved Homs becomes a bombed-out ghost town, these two peaceful protesters take up arms and transform into renegade insurgents, with devastating results. Winner of World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary, Sundance 2014.

Length: 91 minutes

Item#: EDP118387

ISBN: 978-1-63521-500-7

Copyright date: ©2014

Reviews & Awards

Winner of World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary, Sundance 2014

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