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True/False Conversations - Family and War in "Of Fathers and Sons"

T/F film festival

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year's True/False Film Fest.


“Of Fathers and Sons” explore the love two sons have for their father, a Jihadist fighter.

To make this film, Syrian director Talal Derki posed as a war photographer sympathetic to jihadists and their ideology. The result is a documentary about family, innocence, war and radicalization.

Okeson-Haberman: What conversations do you hope people have after watching your documentary?


Derki: It belongs to this eternal relation between father and his sons. This conversation goes to everyone who is a son or a father. I want really this idea to be about the kids, how they are innocent and really not as what mostly the war propaganda of ISIS  presents them as...There a lot of messages, there are a lot of ideas, there are a lot of moments in the film.

Okeson-Haberman: Did change how you viewed your relationship with your father?

Derki: I mean I have my good memories about my father. He’s a refugee in Germany, and now and I visit him from time to time in the south of Germany... It has changed more my relation with my son so that what has made me more worried about him.


Okeson-Haberman: When you were filming this you were in a bit of a dangerous situation, and I'm sure you didn't want to worry your son so what were you able to tell him and how did you navigate those conversations?

Derki: All the time day and night you are really afraid that something can happen. You are not in the frontline but you hear the bombing around, you hear the airstrike, you see the jihadists all the time, you see the bombs, you see everything and you are just a filmmaker with a camera capturing moments and trying to find his direction and try to find the story. You really need the patience and I was away from him for a long time and that made me feel more strongly that I need to be back home in Berlin to spend time with him and have a peaceful life.