Purple Sea

Khaled Abdulwahed, Amel Alzakout
Germany 2020 / 66’
Mosquito State Red Moon Tide

The shooting for this film was done with a waterproof camera attached to the wrist of Alzakout, a Syrian refugee who, after the overcrowded boat she was on sank in 2015, found herself at sea—somewhere along the Greek coast—along with other passengers. The camera tracks her gesticulations, which have only one aim: to help her stay afloat. The sky and the sea change places; we lose sight of the horizon; we emerge and dive, and the legs kicking in the abyss (sometimes wearing only one shoe) give the impression that the people they belong to are floating carefree in a state of weightlessness. When Alzakout’s arms reach above the surface, we hear screams and rescue whistles; we see fragments of heads and life jackets, above which there is an insanely blue sky that brings to mind tourist brochures for a Mediterranean holiday. Alzakout and Abdulwahed (they are a couple, and this is a personal project of theirs) bring out in their film not only the tragedy but also the absurd surrealism of a situation where thousands die in a sea besieged by tourists as the world looks on. This extraordinary essay also provides an opportunity for reflection on the images that have been used for years to tell the story of the refugee and migration crisis.

Małgorzata Sadowska

Amel Alzakout

Born in 1988, Amel Alzakout is a Syrian director and artist living in Germany. She studied journalism in Cairo, fine arts in Berlin, and media art in Leipzig. She has created artistic installations. Purple Sea is her feature debut.


2019 Stranger’s Diaries (co-dir.)

2020 Purpurowe morze / Das Purpurmeer / Purple Sea (co-dir.)

Khaled Abdulwahed

Born in 1975, Khaled Abdulwahed is a Syrian artist, photographer, and filmmaker living in Germany. He studied fine arts and graphic art in Damascus and Nicosia. He has created installations that have been presented at prestigious institutions in Europe and the Middle East. He is a member of the curatorial team for Forum Expanded, an independent section of the Berlinale. His experimental medium-length film Backyard was an award winner at the FIDMarseille festival.


2011 Bullet (short)

2013 Slot in Memory (short)

2018 Backyard (medium-length)

2019 Stranger’s Diaries (co-dir.)

2020 Purpurowe morze / Das Purpurmeer / Purple Sea (co-dir.)

Cast & Crew

director Khaled Abdulwahed, Amel Alzakout
screenplay Khaled Abdulwahed, Amel Alzakout
cinematography Amel Alzakout
editing Philip Scheffner
producer Ines Meier, Alex Gerbaulet
production pong Film GmbH
language Arabic
colouration colour

Purple Sea

Khaled Abdulwahed, Amel Alzakout

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