Former Libya rebels light up Sarajevo film festival

Fighters at screening of a documentary that captures their experience on the frontline.

Hundreds of former Libyan rebels gathered Thursday in Sarajevo, the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina, for the world premiere of a documentary dedicated to their 2011 fight against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

The four-hour documentary “Tomorrow, Tripoli—The Revolution of the Rats” by French director Florent Marcie depicts the everyday experiences of fighters in Zintan, the West Libyan hill town that was among the first to fall into rebel hands after an armed uprising broke out against Gaddafi in February 2011. 

Marcie travelled to Libya shortly after the revolt began and spent eight months filming alongside anti-government fighters.

“As I got closer to Zintan, I saw that there was something special about this town and I decided to stay there,” Marcie said.

The area is rarely visited by journalists, but Marcie said he “met real people, (including) fighters who made ambushes, who were really active”.

From the start of the Libyan revolution, this small group of insurgents, far from Benghazi, defied the regime from their villages in the Nefoussa mountains. Isolated from the insurgent stronghold in eastern Libya and from the outside world, surrounded by Gaddafi army, they fought and reached, against all odds, one sacrifice after another, Tripoli.

“We came here for Florent, who is a hero for us… He was with us since the beginning and he has shared our fate,” said 41-year old former rebel fighter Mohammad Tawfik, who now works with the Libyan defence ministry.

Captured Gaddafi son
A scene in the film shows the death of Mohammed Ali Madani, founder of the rebel Zintan Brigade that would go on to capture Gaddafi’s son Seif in November 2011. Saif was captured as he tried to flee Libya. Along with dozens of former officials, Saif is detained in Zintan and is facing charges ranging from corruption to war crimes, resulting from their alleged role in suppressing the 2011 uprising.

The documentary was among films screened during the Warm Film Festival, an event organised by war reporters dedicated to contemporary conflicts. According to the WARM website, the foundation is dedicated to war reporting and war art, as well as history and memories of war, and dedicated to the promotion of emerging talents and to education. It aims to bring together people with a common passion for “telling the story with excellence and integrity”.

Florent Marcie began photography in 1989 during the Romanian Revolution, and then moved to documentary filmmaking. “Tomorrow, Tripoli” is not Marcie’s first warm film – this is his niche - he shoots, edits and produces his films himself and all of them are related to war. 

He is the director of Saïa, a short film on a frontline at night in Afghanistan, and of Itchkéri Kenti, a long documentary film on the war in Chechenya, among others. He is now working on Commander Khawani, a film which portraits an Afghan commander through 15 years of conflict. He lives between Paris and Tripoli.

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