Syrialism is a docu-drama that explores the complex feelings of survival guilt felt by an enigmatic Syrian man living in Oslo. The film uses elements of Surrealism to explore the nature of dreams, memory, and imagination as a way of dealing with depression. The film throws us from an interview with Salam to the middle of his nightmares, where he is confronted with his diseased brother and his child that died in Syria. He wakes up only to be thrown into another dream where his jealous sisters tease him about forgetting about how tough they have it back home. Salam is being mocked and misunderstood by the non-stop visits he gets from his family members in his dreams.
Fearful of becoming desensitized to his people’s suffering, Salam tries to disconnect from these simple Norwegian comforts, sometimes in real life, but mostly in his head. By visualizing and filming Salam’s dreams, we tap into a surreal world where he re-enacts what he wishes he could do and say to them. This agency he gets by re-enacting his dreams empowers him to imagine a new narrative, one where he could send water from his apartment all the way to Syria, one where he can tell the whole world to accept that he is not happy just because he is safe!
The film highlights the complex relations that result between refugees and their families back home and offers an intimate look at an overlooked psychological state that many refugees struggle with as their homeland fades into the news.