Sing and Cry, Cry and Sing

Polish fitness celebrity Artur Ligeska accepts 2017 a lucrative offer to develop a new health club in Dubai, high-tech metropolis of superlatives. But within months, he is thrown from the high life into the darkest depths of the Emirati penal system. Having decided to return to Europe, Artur is unexpectedly prevented from leaving the country and promptly arrested on spurious charges. Denied legal counsel or contact with the world outside prison, his situation becomes even more perilous when he is transferred to an isolation cell in the maximum security facility of Al-Sadr in Abu Dhabi.

They gave me one blanket, and they told me, ‘Welcome to hell’.

A global economic and political power, the United Arab Emirates is a federation of monarchies in which executive, legislative and judicial authority lies with the fantastically wealthy ruling family. Under its authoritarian regime, human rights abuses are routine, and violations of due process systematic.

As Artur fights for survival in the barbaric conditions of Al-Sadr, a kind voice from a neighbouring cell reaches out to him. Emirati engineer and poet Ahmed Mansoor, internationally recognised as ‘The Last Human Rights Defender in the UAE’ and currently serving a 10-year sentence, strikes up a friendship across concrete walls. Ahmed helps Artur cope with Christmas in isolation by sharing songs and tears, family memories, seeds of hope. Later, when Ahmed needs help, Artur does not hesitate to act on his behalf, despite enormous, even life-threatening, risks.

To watch Sing and Cry, Cry and Sing is to be given the privilege of witnessing two unique individuals in extremis, denied basic liberties and dignity, unflinchingly manifest universal human values. (Mukul Patel)    

During filming, Artur related his experiences directly to the camera in long, intimate takes. These passages were then interwoven in a complex chronology that echoes the temporal disorientation caused by prolonged solitary confinement. The bond of trust between Artur and the filmmaker that made this openness possible grew out of their shared respect for Ahmed, whom she had previously interviewed. Though the conversation between Artur and the filmmaker developed over many months, filming itself was completed on one emotionally-charged day in Warsaw, in August 2020. (production note)

Orig. Title
Sing and Cry, Cry and Sing
Austria, United Kingdom
43 min
Manu Luksch
Orig. Language
English, polish
English, German
Manu Luksch
Manu Luksch
Filip Drozdz, Christian Haake
Manu Luksch
Sound Design
Mukul Patel
Uli Grimm
Executive Producer
Mathias Forberg, Manu Luksch
Available Formats
DCP 2K scope (Distribution Copy)
Aspect Ratio
Sound Format
5.1 surround
Frame Rate
24 fps
Color Format
Festivals (Selection)
Krakow - International Film Festival
Graz - Diagonale, Festival des österreichischen Films