Private Project

The Song of the Valley

“It’s too hard to live in Lebanon. Everywhere is warmth and heat. Syria is my homeland, where my beloved resides”. So goes the improvised song of Ammar, describing his discontent exiled from Syria, living
in a Lebanese refugee camp, near Anjar in the Bekaa Valley, near the Syrian border.
Like Ammar, millions are waiting for the end of the brutal war, living in tents in makeshift camps. Metropolitan Beirut, is just about two hours away by car. Before the Lebanese Civil War, Beirut was considered a jewel of a city, called “the Paris of the East”, or “Switzerland of the Orient”. Captured on camera are Syrian refugees and Lebanese, singing and talking abouttheir experiences, their daily lives, their desires and their dreams, brought together in the same country—Lebanon. Full of devotion, they sing about love, country and religion.
The German/Lebanese jazz singer Marie Séférian has written the music to accompany the sweeping views of the magnificent hills and valleys of Lebanon. From all this comes a film that artistically conveys the extraordinary condition in which this war wracked country currently finds itself.
Subtitles: EN, FR, GER

  • Matthias Leupold
    Lighter than Orange
  • Marie Séférian
    Lighter than Orange
  • Matthias Leupold
    Lighter than Orange
  • Marie Séférian
    Music, Vocal, Sound
    Lighter than Orange
  • Matthias Leupold
    The Noise of Letea, 2017, 30 min
  • Marcel Schobel
    Motion Design
    Das Linke Ding, arte
  • Dorothea Franz, Salomé Wagner
    Motion Design
  • Khalil Chanine, Phil Freeborn
    Hugo Jaeggi-Fotograf, The Noise of Letea
  • Saema Saleh, Masha Traber, Mardiros Palazian
    Lighter than Orange
  • Matthias Leupold
    Film Editing
    Hugo Jaeggi-Photographer
  • Lilian Pauline Leupold
    Lighter than Orange, Hugo Jaeggi-Fotograf
  • Jesse Simon
    Maps Design
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    50 minutes 4 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 5, 2020
  • Production Budget:
    20,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
    Arabic, English, French
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital, 4K
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Courage Film Festival Berlin
    April 18, 2020
  • Fresco Film Festival
    August 31, 2020
  • Scandinavian International Film Festival
    August 28, 2020
  • Gallery Bernd Lausberg
    September 29, 2020
    German Premiere
Director Biography - Matthias Leupold, Marie Séférian

Matthias Leupold was born in East Berlin in 1959. Since the 1980s he has been creating a parallel world through his staged photography. Scenes from this world have been exhibited in over 50 exhibitions in Europe, Asia and the USA, and are published in several books, as well as archived in international collections. Leupold is a professor of Photography at an art and design university in Berlin. His first documentary: LIGHTER THAN ORANGE–THE LEGACY OF DIOXIN IN VIETNAM, 2015, 72 min, DCP, BD, Subtitles: EN; FR, DE; ES; VN, RU, TUR, ITA was selected from several festivals in Europe, USA and Asia and awarded with GRAND PRIZE Documentary Feature Award of Socially Relevant Film Festival New York and Best Feature Documentary Los Angeles CineFest, 42 broadcasts Deutsche Welle DE, EN, ES, AR, more:
THE NOISE OF LETEA, 29 min, Documentary, 2017, Hugo Jaeggi,Photographer-The Dream is often Real Enough, 46 min, 2019
more: and
Marie Séférian is the daughter of a chamber musician and a french chanson singer. With three years she began to play the violin. After ten years of violin lessons she decided to take piano and singing lessons. She studied Jazz Voice at the UDK, Berlin and in Luzern, Switzerland.
Marie released several albums with her own compositions and toured in: Libanon, Chile, Netherlands, India, Switzerland, Ireland and Germany.
Her Life motto is: No matter where you are, music is everywhere. You wear it always with you around.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

German version below
People in Lebanon are used to contrasts.
Today the four million Lebanese are sheltering (estimated) two million refugees. Many flee directly over the Syrian border to find shelter. The film seeks out Beirut residents and Syrian refugees to discuss their current situation. Contrary to expectations, many of them have no interest in going to Europe or Germany. The Syrians are too accustomed to their lives as shepherds or vegetable farmers back home to be able to imagine a new life with their many children in a totally strange climate and country. The wish for a speedy return to a peaceful Syria is the overwhelming sentiment expressed by Syrian refugees in several camps, when asked by the UNHCR in Anjar and the surrounding area. Many refugees would not give any interviews. They are afraid that their words would be interpreted as politically incorrect by the authorities or the Syrian government, and they fear reprisals.
Yet the Syrians sing about their yearning for their homeland, love and religion. And the Lebanese in turn sing of their patriotic feelings, which survived intact through their civil war and of which they are especially proud. Through these mostly improvised words and melodies, the dignity and strength of these two peoples are poetically conveyed and the viewer gains understandingand insight into this pressing, current situation.

Im Libanon ist man an Gegensätze und Instabilität gewöhnt. Heute leben im Libanon nach Schätzungen zwei Millionen Flüchtlinge, darunter vor allem Palestinenser und Syrer. Sie sind oft direkt aus dem Nachbarstaat Syrien über die Grenze gekommen und haben hier Zuflucht gefunden. Der Film befragt Bewohner Beiruts zur Situation und lässt eine Vielzahl der vor dem Krieg geflohenen Syrer zu Wort kommen. Entgegen allen Erwartungen des Filmteams wollen viele von ihnen gar nicht nach Europa oder Deutschland. Zu sehr sind die Syrer an das Leben als Schafhirten oder Gemüsebauern in ihrer Heimat gewöhnt, als dass sie sich vorstellen könnten, mit ihren zahlreichen Kindern eine neue Existenz in der Fremde aufzubauen. Der Wunsch nach einer baldigen Rückkehr in ein befriedetes Syrien war der Grundtenor der von uns Befragten in mehreren Flüchtlingscamps des UNHCR in Anjar und Umgebung. Viele der Flüchtlinge lehnten Interviews ab. Sie hatten große Angst vor Repressalien seitens der Behörden oder der syrischen Regierung, die ihre Beiträge möglicherweise als politisch unkorrekt einstufen könnten.

Doch dann sangen einige Syrer von ihrer Sehnsucht nach Heimat, Liebe und Religion und die Libanesen von ihrem Nationalgefühl, welches durch Bürgerkrieg und Durchhaltevermögen entstanden ist und auf das sie heute besonders stolz sind. Durch diese improvisierten Texte und deren spontanen Liedvortrag zumeist in der Form traditioneller Klagegesänge überträgt sich auf poetische Weise die Stärke dieser Menschen auf den Zuschauer und erzeugt Achtung, Verständnis und Einsicht in die aktuelle Situation.