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REVIEW Images - Courtesy of the artist. Writer - Barbara Lounder, visual artist.

Stillness and Stories: The films of Raghed Charabaty Melding fiction and sociopolitical history Everyone knows that stories are simplifications. To

details that are the most-loved in any story. As we

tell a story is to select. Only in this way can a story

know too well, those familiar spaces and narratives

be given a form and so be preserved. If you tell a

of daily life can be ruptured in an instant of violence.

story about somebody you love, a curious thing happens. The storyteller is like a dressmaker cutting

For Charabaty, Alia is a reconciliation with the

a pattern out of cloth. You cut from the cloth as fully

memories of his parents’ generation, and with his

and intelligently as possible. Inevitably there are

own identity as an Arab. Alia was narrated by his

narrow strips and awkward triangles which cannot

father, Naji Charabaty, and #Deema features the

be used—which have no place in the form of the

poetry of his mother, Sana Jumayel. In #Deema,

story. Suddenly you realize it is those strips, those

reconciliation weaves two narratives together; the

useless remnants, which you love most. Because the

tragic love story of the characters Deema and Nidal,

heart wants to retain all.

displaced from their homeland, and the unfolding

From John Berger, Go Ask the Time, Granta

of the Arab Spring. #Deema is striking in its use

Magazine, Spring 1985

of saturated colour, often isolated against dark

of still life and portrait traditions in painting and

I shall collect your precious tears inside a perfume

photography; movement is economical, often slow,

bottle

using nuances of light and shadow to depict private

And on cold mornings

moments that crescendo into societal calamity. Alia,

Wipe my eyelids with them

It is through the sensitive and intelligent integration of new, and established, modes of visual language that Charabaty brings important stories to life.

a 5-minute film by Charabaty, recounts the April

Hoping that their salt will take me to your beaches

new, and established, modes of visual language that

13, 1975, ‘bus massacre’ in Ain el-Rummaneh (an

Where our dreams, like waves

Charabaty brings important stories to life.

event regarded as the beginning of the civil war

Rock back and forth … 

in Lebanon), through the memory of an elderly

Sana Jumayel, from #Deema

backgrounds. The lighting is warm, with details Raghed Charabaty’s award-winning short films have

rendered in amber tones, drawing the viewer in.

an aesthetic sensibility recalling the conventions

man. The eponymous (and fictional) protagonist,

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Originally from Dahr El Sawan, Lebanon, Raghed (Ray) Charabaty came to Canada in 2012. He

represented as one of the 27 to die in the attack,

Charabaty’s third film, Yasmine, is in progress at

completed a BFA with a Major in Film at the Nova

is a symbol of pre-war Lebanon, and a memory

the time of writing. It promises to introduce us

Scotia College of Art and Design in 2016, having

of a lost love. Alia’s face is a chiaroscuro portrait,

to new visual and narrative tools in Charabaty’s

produced two highly acclaimed short films about his

silently meeting our gaze. This contrasts with longer

filmmaking toolbox, some borrowed from the

homeland. Alia (2015) and #Deema (2016) soon to

shots of her with companions on the bus. Like a

genres of animation, horror movies and thrillers. It

be accompanied by a third film, Yasmine (2017). See

genre painting, the scene is alive with animated

will also include shots made in ‘cloud tanks’, which

http://raghed.ca and https://vimeo.com/raghed for

conviviality. The attire, belongings and food recall

were used to great effect in Alia and #Deema. It is

more information about the work of this promising

Berger’s reference to ‘useless remnants,’ everyday

through the sensitive and intelligent integration of

new filmmaker.

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