The month of Ramadan in the Arab world is prime time for television dramas. As families gather around their TVs every night to break their fast, they gorge themselves on a plethora of high-budget nail-biters that routinely deal in provocative political themes. Syria has long been a leading producer of these Ramadan soap operas, and few directors have stirred more controversy than Najdat Anzour.
A dapper and flamboyant man given to wearing ascots, Anzour has caused outrage with productions that condemn Islamic extremism and, more recently, a biopic of Saudi Arabia’s founding king that paints him as a bloodthirsty murderer and rapist who cut corrupt deals with the West. Anzour views his films as part of a struggle against a Saudi conspiracy.
During Ramadan 2013, Anzour released Under the Homeland’s Sky, a controversial take on Syria’s civil war that sympathizes with the regime. The show’s hostility to the opposition wasn’t the only thing that set it apart from the season’s other portrayals of the war—it was the only one actually shot in Syria. Here are photos from the set, which used war-torn neighborhoods like Darayya as scenery and cast loyalist militias as rebels, depicting them as terrorists.