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How much pain, how much life makes up the existence of people in the Middle East?
In this film – shot over a three-year period along the borders between Syria, Iraq, Kurdistan and Lebanon – Gianfranco Rosi gives voice to a human drama that transcends geographical divisions and calendar time, illuminating with encounters and images the daily life that lies behind the continuous tragedy of civil wars, brutal dictatorships, foreign invasions and interference and finally the murderous apocalypse of ISIS. But war does not appear directly: we hear it in the mournful dirges of mothers, in the stammering of permanently wounded children, in a play about the senselessness of politics performed by patients in a psychiatric hospital. Different stories, to which the narration confers a unity that goes beyond the conflicts. A street singer, dressed by his beloved, awakens the city praising the Almighty. A poacher sets out in search of game among the reeds, oil wells, the crackle of gunfire. Female Peshmerga guerrillas defend their grace and battle stations with the same determination. Islamic State terrorists are crammed to the rafters in a prison that attempts to contain fundamentalist hatred. The anguish of a Yazidi mother confronted with upsetting messages from her daughter still held prisoner by ISIS. Ali, a teenager, who toils at night and at dawn to bring bread to his siblings. All around, and within the consciousness of all, signs of violence and destruction: but in the foreground is the humanity that reawakens every day from a nocturne that seems infinite.