THEO WHO LIVED, a documentary film directed by David Schisgall, tells the remarkable story of American journalist Theo Padnos, who was kidnapped in Syria and held by the Nusra Front — the Syrian affiliate of Al Qaeda — for twenty-two months.
The film will open at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas in NYC on October 7 and at the Laemmle Monica Film Center in LA on October 21.
In the late fall of 2012, Theo Padnos, a struggling American journalist, slipped into Syria to report on the country’s civil war and was promptly kidnapped by Al Qaeda’s branch in Syria. Because he spoke fluent Arabic, his captors suspected he worked for the CIA and, for months, brutally tortured him during interrogation sessions. But his fluency, coupled with his remarkable personal expansiveness, also led to an extraordinary engagement with, and understanding of, his captors. By the time of his release, twenty-two months later, he had become a confidante of Al-Qaeda’s top commander in Syria.
In THEO WHO LIVED, Padnos returns to the Middle East and retraces the physical and emotional steps of his harrowing journey, performing his memories, and enacting the fantasy world he created as means of mental escape. A gripping narrative that includes betrayal among the imprisoned, unlikely friendships, and thwarted escapes, THEO WHO LIVED is an intimate portrait of personal resilience, and grace in the face of hate.