[Documentary] Blooming in the Desert – Three women in Raqqa rebuilding their future

Three women of Raqqa are ‘Blooming in the Desert’
‘Blooming in the Desert’ is a short-documentary which tells the story of three women from Raqqa that after war and devastation are creating a new life in their home city.

Raqqa is a city that has seen empires rise and fall over the centuries. Since its conquest by the Islamic State in 2013 the city of Raqqa has lived under a regime of terror and fundamentalism. Women were forced to comply with strict sharia rules imposed without discussion by the members and followers of the Islamic State, leaving no room for freedom and decision in their own lives. In 2017, after an arduous battle that destroyed a large part of the city, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) liberated the city of Raqqa and its surroundings. Many people around the world watched with emotion as the women took off the burqas and threw them to the ground in anger and joy. 

But after the battle always come the reconstruction, and now these women have in their hands the immense task of creating a new system based on multi-ethnic, multi-religious respect and gender equality. Meryam, Awaft and Hind are the three protagonist of this documentary that are participate in the democratic structures of the Raqqa Administration, seeking to create a new hope for their people, but above all, a new way of life that places women at the center of society. Benedetta Argentieri, talent filmmaker and journalist, has followed closely the Rojava’s revolution and the achievements that had meant for the women of the region: “The Women’s Revolution has spread in the Arab areas; it has been a great inspiration, and very empowering. Each time I went to Raqqa, I was amazed by the strength and the determination that these women have in rebuilding their future. I never could imagined, after all the violence they had to endure, they would answer with this strength of character.” She said. ‘Blooming in the desert’ talks about this change by following three women who never before thought they could be involved in society and in the political scene. In fact, before ISIS the Ba’ath regime has secluded women from entering properly public life. Now Meryam leads the “Women’s Movement”, Awaft works in the women’s area of the municipality, while Hind is a singer and a musician that takes part in spreading the Raqqa folklore.

For Benedetta Argentieri “Every story of women building a new future is worth telling.” Also she recognizes that the knowledge on Arab women in north and east Syria is largely unknown “Through interviews and the stories of so many women, we know how the regimen thought of women mainly as wife and mothers. They couldn’t really have a part in society and had no voice in the political arena. Then they had to endure the war, and ISIS domination of the city. It was a really violent period.” For this she conclude “Overall I think it is important to show how women are changing the society, and no matter how much violence or suffering you had to endure, there is always a possibility of change.” 

The film will be present online on 1st of December at 20:00 UTC (London time), 21:00 CET (Berlin) – in Arabic with English subtitles in the Youtube Channel of Women Defend Rojava – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8XriQRS4WA


  • Director: Benedetta Argentieri
  • With: Maryam Ibrahim, Awatef Al Issa, Hind Abdulaziz
  • Camera: Benedetta Argentieri, Sara A. de Ceano-Vivas Núñez, Dani Ellis
  • Extra footage: Azad Avdike
  • Editing: Azad Avdike, Matteo Mossi
  • Postproduction: Luigi D’Alife,Claudio Cadei
  • Translation: Xebat Abbas
  • Production: Banos Film, Possibile Film, SMK Factory

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