Dounia is 6 years old, she leaves Aleppo with a few nigella seeds in the palm of her hand and with the help of the Princess of Aleppo, Dounia makes the trip to a new world…

Film critic

One full moon night, Leila listens to her suitor (and future husband) reciting poems to her, comfortably installed at the foot of a tree and lulled by the sweet melody of pistachios opening in the moonlight. Six months later, while spring adorns the province of Aleppo with its most beautiful colors, in the heart of the hustle and bustle of the streets where traders and craftsmen bustle about, little Dounia comes into the world, who reveals to her loved ones her hair inherited from his mother and his delicate pistachio-shaped mouth.

Drunk with joy, Leila sings of her happiness. A short-lived happiness since it soon dies out of an affliction whose name we keep quiet. Now raised by her father and her grandparents, Dounia grew up in this beautiful residence adorned with a magnificent interior courtyard and learned some culinary secrets alongside her grandmother. On a moonless night, this time, the Syrian authorities come to arrest his father, whom they suspect of being an enemy of the regime. A mother swept away by illness, a father swept away by repression. ” A long hard road awaits him, but his future will be as beautiful as his eyes. promises a friend of her grandparents, now her only guardians.

A philosophical grandfather, a loving and nurturing grandmother, you have to resolve to face this dilemma: the difficulty of leaving, the impossibility of staying. But, surrounded by his family and despite the depth of his wounds, Dounia keeps a big heart, unlike those others who see theirs dry up. ” A thirsty heart becomes like a raisin, and no longer knows what is good and what is bad. comforts her wise grandfather in the face of rising anger and dismay in the Syrian city. The music then comes to warm the bruised hearts, awakening the fire of the soul.

“You never leave your house, Dounia. Because your home is the whole world, and its door is right here, in your heart.

Recounting with poetry and lyricism the pain of exile, Dounia and the Princess of Aleppo is a magnificent ode to storytelling and to art as an escape from the harshness of reality. Born in Syria, into a trilingual cosmopolitan Christian family that traveled extensively, Marya Zarif had the idea of ​​adapting a mini-series project in 6 episodes, taking advantage of her double cultural richness to transmit the influences that contributed to her construction as a woman and an artist. Through cultures and languages, from one mythology to another, she has discovered a taste for the tale that she tries to convey in this wonderfully poignant animated film.

Because the eyes of the heart see all that is hidden, Dounia is convinced that in her soul lies a part of magic allowing to resist tragedies and overcome obstacles. Introducing children to a delicate spiritual discourse without proselytism, Dounia and the Princess of Aleppo injects kindness in the face of the inconceivable (death, xenophobia, asylum) and magic as a vector of resilience through these little baraké seeds that she carries with her.

The great and moving beauty of Dounia and the Princess of Aleppo lies, beyond its striking graphic beauty, in the story of this child full of life and self-confidence. Surrounded by assertive female role models and men who exercise their resistance as best they can, she is the optimistic heart of this terrible contemporary story that has placed millions of Syrian men and women on the path to exile. Presented at the Annecy Festival and at My First Festivalthis humanist odyssey intoxicated the retina and the heart of the public, strong in this seductive dreaminess drawn from Syrian music and culture, reviving again and again this force of hope, precious in the current political context.


February 1st 2023 – Of Marya Zarif and Andre Kadi

DOUNIA AND THE PRINCESS OF ALEP – Review of the animated film