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CruelWeather Recent Film/Video from the Arab Middle East Curated by Jay Murphy


Text: Etel Adnan Editor: Jay Murphy Production: Angela Lennon Design: Jaco Justice ISBN: 978-0-9555524-9-6 Peacock Visual Arts 21 Castle Street Aberdeen AB11 5BQ Charity SCO 14840

Cover: Slingshot Hiphop (2008) Š Jackie Salloum Courtesy Fresh Booza Productions


Recent Film/Video from the Arab Middle East

Page 6.


Etel Adnan - Arab Cinema, a brief statement

8-17. Featuring work by:

Ayreen Anastas & Rene Gabri Youssef Chahine Wael Noureddine Jackie Salloum Jayce Salloum Jayce Salloum & Elia Suleiman Roy Samaha Jalal Toufic Akram Zaatari


Panel discussion


Masterclass with director Wael Noureddine


Youth Workshop with Jackie Salloum


with directors Jackie Salloum (Slingshot Hiphop) & Wael Noureddine (July Trip) in conversation with Jay Murphy

Identities in Motion

Solo Exhibition by Ayah Bdeir


Festival Schedule

Arab cinema, a brief statement

Arab cinema is not yet major in cinema history but the equivalent of a medium size provincial town... it’s striving.

movie, and Burhan Alawiyyeh’s film Kafr Kassem are two masterpieces that locate their stories against a background of defeat and national tragedy.

In the forties and fifties of the last century it produced wonderful musical comedies with some of the best singers and dancers of that period. They were good movies that enchanted the whole Arab World. There was something authentic in that Egyptian cinema.

It is interesting to note that the best of Arab cinema in the last two decades does not come from “commercial” films, movies destined to a large public. Is it lack of talent or lack of money or both? How to know? The language of these productions is generally a mixture of Arab images and Western techniques... probably the way Arab cities are: a mixture of local colour and Westernised societies behaving, dressing and consuming like their European or American counterparts.

Under pressure from critics who wanted Western-type movies, Egyptian directors produced series of uninspiring bourgeois melodramas while movie makers from other countries such as Tunisia, Morocco, Syria and Iraq tried their hands with rather mediocre movies, with a few exceptions such as Bass ya Bahr (from Kuwait) and Under the Sun (from Syria). The Egyptian Youssef Chahine made some of the best movies that followed the musical comedies. His film Al Asfour is one of the very best of Arab cinema and stirred the emotions of the various audiences of that world. This


It is in the parallel world of video and short films that the best of Arab cinema is taking place. Some of those who come to mind are Jalal Toufic, Akram Zaatari, Emily Jacir, Jayce Salloum, Khalil Joreige & Joanna HadjiThomas, Fouad el Khoury ... these are highly sophisticated intellectuals who think through the cinema medium like great artists from the world of art or dance. They are supremely

“contemporary” while reflecting on the Arab World. They are the best of the generation of mondialization where countries are more and more an autonomous part of a bigger whole than really independent and closed cultures. This is why they are more interested in “thinking” than in story telling, or we can say than in a unified though extremely fragmented world they pick up fragments of events and let the audience complete the story. It’s an essentially inter-active method of presentation, a refusal to conclude, a desire to focus on details so that their thinking remains open-ended.

Etel Adnan July 2009

Slingshot Hiphop (2008) ©Jackie Salloum Courtesy Fresh Booza Productions 7

Slingshot Hiphop (2008) ŠJackie Salloum Courtesy Fresh Booza Productions


SLINGSHOT HIPHOP (Jackie Salloum, 83 min, 2008) Braids together the stories of young Palestinians living in Gaza, the West Bank and inside Israel as they discover Hiphop and employ it as a tool to surmount divisions imposed by occupation and poverty. From internal checkpoints and Separation Walls to gender norms and generational differences, this is the story of young people crossing the borders that separate them. “The culture of hiphop and rap is at its most powerful and yet its most tender in Slingshot Hiphop” – Chuck D 2008 Sundance Film Festival Official Selection 2008 Best Director Audience Award Beirut International Film Festival October 3 The Belmont Picturehouse, 4pm


INTRODUCTION TO THE END OF AN ARGUMENT (Jayce Salloum & Elia Suleiman, 41 min, 1990) Rarely screened, this early collaboration between renowned Lebanese Canadian video artist Jayce Salloum and Palestinian director Elia Suleiman (Divine Intervention, Chronicle of a Disappearance) is a wonderful piece of culture jamming satire and political jujitsu. Assembling a combination of Hollywood, European and Israeli film, documentary, news coverage together with excerpts of ‘live’ footage shot in the West Bank and Gaza strip, Introduction to the End of an Argument... critiques Western representations of the Middle East, Arab culture, and the Palestinian people. The film mimics dominant forms of representation, subverting their methodology in a bid to arrest both imagery and ideology, decolonizing and recontextualizing images to provide space for a voice consistently denied expression in the mass media.

UNTITLED P ART 3B: (AS IF) BEAUTY NEVER ENDS.. (Jayce Salloum, 11:22, 2000/3) A more ambient work of many things, including orchards blooming and plants growing, superimposed over raw footage from post massacre filmings of the 1982 massacre at Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps in Lebanon. Cloud footage, Hubbell space imagery, the visible body crosscuts, and abstract shots of slow motion water, add to this reflection of the past, its present context and forbearance. With the voice over of Abdel Majid Fadl Ali Hassan (a 1948 refugee living in Bourg El Barajneh camp) recounting a story told by the rubble of his home in Palestine, and the collection of audio accompanying the clips, the tape permeates into an intense essay on dystopia in contemporary times. A elegiac response working directly, viscerally and metaphorically.

JULY TRIP (Wael Noureddine, 35 min, 2007) Beirut, 2006. Israeli bombs fall on the city. Wael Noureddine begins a journey. The result is not so much a documentary, though the images he’s filmed cry out with brutal, burning truth – rather it is an experiment. In using two filming techniques to complement each other (16mm and HDV), the director calls into question the fundamental rules of the documentary. Noureddine’s visual poems reveal a heroic conception of images: “A camera is dangerous, when capturing images, we capture them for eternity, it’s a big responsibility.” 10

Untitled Part 3b: (as if) beauty never ends (2000/3) ©Jayce Salloum Courtesy LUX


October 8 Peacock Visual Arts, 7pm


WHAT EVERYBODY KNOWS (Ayreen Anastas & Rene Gabri, 118 min, 2008) In the spring of 2006, the filmmakers traveled to Palestine and Israel, searching, researching and witnessing the situation. They created a series of videos that document their encounters with people of various walks of life struggling, resisting, surviving, suffering and living their everyday lives. The video follows their 16-day journey, covering stories at a new location every day. What Everybody Knows moves from the everyday to establishing the connections of what Israeli activist-architect Jeff Halper has called “the matrix of control� throughout the Occupied Territories. October 16 University of Aberdeen, 7pm Visit for room number

THIS DAY (Akram Zaatari, 86 min, 2003) Shot in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan, this essay uses transportation, video, and photography to examine images circulating in a historically charged, and presently wartorn and divided, Middle East. From images of camels in the desert to images of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the video looks at states of mind in relation to actual geographies. The video pays tribute to an unformatted and open-ended documentary approach, and examines modes of access to information such as travel, television and the Internet, while carefully displaying the resulting iconography. 2004 Prix Son, Festival Internationale du Documentaire de Marseilles October 22 The Belmont Picturehouse, 6pm


This Day (2003) ©Akram Zaatari Courtesy Video Data Bank

PLEASE REWIND ME LATER (Roy Samaha, 30 min, 2007) Please rewind me later is Lebanese video-artist Roy Samaha’s most recent work, inspired as much from Carlos Castaneda and William Burroughs’ “cut ups” as from uncanny irruptions in the space and time of contemporary Beirut. This video is intended as a way to investigate one’s own past life. It reconnects childhood homes, dreams and VHS tapes, all that forms a body that remembers. Is it possible to make a self-portrait without giving in to the clichés of historical archives? Once it was said: “You must understand: the memory of objects records and retains the actions of humans... so that following generations inherit them... But it was also asked of you to leave backwards to do as if you had never come in. Things, places possess a kind of memory. When you enter a closed space, a part of you remains attached to it, you lose something. You must learn to take leave without losing a parcel of your being... Learn to circulate without leaving a trace.” October 31 Peacock Visual Arts, 6pm


Ashura (2002) ŠJalal Toufic Courtesy the artist


ASHURA (Jalal Toufic, 80 min, 2002) “In memory of the 680 A.D. slaughter of Al-Husayn, the grandson of the prophet Muhammad, a yearly commemoration of Âshûrâ takes place in Lebanon. In Jalal Toufic’s rigorous video [‘Âshûrâ’: This Blood Spilled in My Veins], footage of the accompanying rituals are intercut with related blessings and prayers, as well as lamentations and elegiac music, all presented in extended takes with no commentary. To these events are added recorded interviews with Gilles Deleuze and Jacques Derrida, and a classroom lecture by the filmmaker himself. Without directly addressing Âshûrâ, their considerations open up our experience of the commemoration. One of the final scenes takes place at the end of the ten-day ceremony when participants lacerate themselves with swords. This act helps maintain the memory not only of the past, but of the future, in particular the promise to await the redeemer, the twelfth Imam. Hovering between a theoretical exploration and an ethnographic documentation, between excess and minimalism, Âshûrâ is a fascinating examination of the relationship between rituals, memory, and history.” Kathy Geritz, Associate Film Curator, Pacific Film Archive November 4 Peacock Visual Arts, 7pm


CHAOS (Youssef Chahine, 122 min, 2007) In his last film, completed with the help of longtime collaborator Khaled Youssef, Chahine concocts a tasty melodrama, with plenty of political bite, out of a tale about a crusading public prosecutor taking on a corrupt and sadistic police chief in contemporary Cairo. Set in the cosmopolitan neighborhood of Choubra, known for the diversity of its residents, Chaos reveals the area to be a powder keg thanks to social and economic conditions that deteriorate while the elite look the other way. Chahine being Chahine, the drama and political commentary is overlaid with a love triangle that ups the ante for all concerned. 2007 Venice International Film Festival 2007 Toronto International Film Festival November 13 University of Aberdeen, 7pm Visit for room number


Chaos (2007) ŠYoussef Chahine Courtesy: Pyramide International


Panel discussion In this discussion, chaired by festival curator Jay Murphy, directors Jackie Salloum and Wael Noureddine will discuss their working methods and perspectives, and allow for public debate on the films shown at the festival and their context. Date: 30th October, 7pm Venue: Peacock Visual Arts, 21 Castle Street, Aberdeen Admission: FREE

Masterclass with director Wael Noureddine Calling all young filmmakers and film graduates! This is an exciting opportunity to take part in an advanced and interactive director’s masterclass with Wael Noureddine. Wael Noureddine graduated from the Sorbonne with a degree in Cinema Studies. He has directed Chez nous à Beyrouth (2001), Ce sera beau, from Beirut with Love (2005), and July Trip (2007), a trilogy about Lebanon that dwells on the physical and mental scars from the country’s wars and conflicts. Noureddine is currently editing his first feature in Paris, an adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s Demons. The masterclass will take place over two-afternoons and with one half theoretical and the other practical. Examining recent propaganda films by Kim Il-Jong, Noureddine will also look at other, more familiar “western” mass media examples of propaganda imagery, and how they are often uncannily effective. He will also integrate some classic examples from cinema history, such as the films of Sergei Eisenstein. Participants will also have the chance to practice with images provided by Noureddine as well as view rushes from the Demons in-process. Date: Saturday 31 October & Sunday 1 November, 1- 4pm Venue: Peacock Visual Arts, 21 Castle Street, Aberdeen. Booking: Places are FREE but limited. To reserve your place call 01224 639 539 or email 18

Youth Workshop Salloum’s workshop will be over two days and will focus on strengths as a filmmaker - editing and story development. Salloum’s film Slingshot Hiphop (2008) has great appeal to teenagers. Salloum is experienced in working with young people, often integrating forms of music and spoken word, hiphop and rap, into her workshops. She has also designed youth education programmes on Palestine. One of her earlier short films, Planet of the Arabs (2005), was an official selection at the Sundance Film Festival and won the International Editing Award at the 2005 Cinema Texas Film Festival. This workshop is unfortunately not open to the public.

Slingshot Hiphop (2008) ©Jackie Salloum Courtesy Fresh Booza Productions


Image: Arabiia, September 2007. Photo: Kate Kunath

Identities in Motion Exhibition at Peacock Visual Arts by Ayah Bdeir 3 October to 14 November 2009 The Middle East is the most mediatised region in the world, and yet Arabs are not thought to have layers, or complexities. Instead the Arab is cast into stereotypical, hyperbolic breeds: sunnis, shiites, warlords, sheiks, belly dancers. Identities in Motion is a series of works by Ayah Bdeir that looks to contemporarise images of Arab identity, reinterpreting often archaic, frozen and homogeneous imagery. The works deal with the obsession of the media to flatten the Arab identity and reduce it to a set of cliche images and iconographies. Identities in Motion raises questions around complex life in the Arab world, its sexuality, social relations, political instabilities, economic disparities and memories. All pieces integrate electronics, microcontrollers, and programming with traditional materials (such as fabric, canvas, paper) in order to create motion, and bring a 4th axis into the piece. New clichĂŠd Arab identities become animated and use humour and technology to engage the public in a dialogue over time.

Ayah Bdeir


Cruel Weather / Schedule October 3

The Belmont Picture House


October 8 Introduction to the End of an Argument Untitled part 3b: Beauty Never Ends July Trip PeacockVisual Arts


October 16

What Everybody Knows

University of Aberdeen


October 22

This Day

The Belmont Picture House


Slingshot Hiphop

October 30 Panel discussion: Jackie Salloum & Wael Noureddine PeacockVisual Arts 7pm


October 31



Please Rewind Me Later

PeacockVisual Arts


PeacockVisual Arts


November 13 Chaos

University of Aberdeen


November 4

Please visit the website for updates on room location for University of Aberdeen screenings and booking requirements.



Special thanks James McKenzie at Filmhouse Cinema (Edinburgh); Nicola Grey; Monika Vykoukal; Karam Tannous; International Curators Forum/Tate Symposium on Contemporary Art in the Middle East; and all the artists.

Cruel Weather. New film & Video from the Arab Middle East  

Festival Catalogue

Cruel Weather. New film & Video from the Arab Middle East  

Festival Catalogue