Abdellatif Abdul-Hamid worked as an actor, musician and singer in the theaters of his hometown prior to pursuing studies in film directing. Two years after enrolling in the University of Lattakia to study Arabic literature, he earned a scholarship to study at the Russian State Institute of Cinematography (VGIK), from where he graduated in 1981.

He has directed two short documentaries for the National Film Organization in Syria, 'Umniyat' (‘Wishes’, 1983) and 'Aydina' (‘Our Hands’, 1982). He worked as an assistant director to Mohammad Malas on 'Ahlam al-Madina' (‘Dreams of the City’, 1983). He also played the lead role in Oussama Mohammad's 'Nujum al- Nahar', (‘Stars in Broad Daylight’, 1988). Among Syrian filmmakers his work has garnered the widest popular appeal in Syria and the Arab world. His filmography includes, 'Layali Ibn Awah' (‘Nights of the Jackals’, 1989), 'Rassa'el Shafahiyyah' (‘Verbal Letters’, 1991), 'Su'ud al-Matar' (‘The Rise of Rain’, 1994), 'Qamaran wa Zaytouna' (‘Two Moons and an Olive’, 1998), 'Nassim al-Rouh' (‘Soul Breeze’, 2001), 'Ma Yatlubuhu al-Musstami'un' (‘At Our Listeners’ Request’, 2003). He has just completed his seventh fiction feature, due for release in 2006. He has authored the scripts of all his films, as well as the script for a television serial entitled 'Usbu'an wa Khamsat Shuhur' (‘Two Weeks and Five Months’, 1985).

His films have earned numerous awards in the Arab world, beginning with the Damascus Film Festival, the Journées Cinématographiques de Carthage (Tunisia), and Rabat International Film Festival (Morocco).

They have also received critical acclaim worldwide: 'Verbal Letters' received the Golden Olive at the Valencia Mediterranean Film Festival in 1992 and 'At Our Listeners' Request' received the Special Acknowledgement at the Asiatica Film Mediale in Italy in 2003 "for the lyricism with which he was capable of describing the tricks of fortune and the reality of war."

Our Hands (Aydina) Syria
, 14 min, 35 mm, 1982
Courtesy of ArteEast and the filmmaker

The filmmaker's first short film with the National Film Organization, produced after his return to Syria from the Soviet Union. 'Our Hands' is visual essay on labouring, gesturing hands.


The text about Abdellatif Abdul-Hamid is reprinted with permission of the publishers; text originally published in 'Insights into Syrian Cinema', co-published by Rattapallax Press and ArteEast in 2006. All rights reserved.