Space and Memory in the War-Torn City
An evening of short films from the Arab world.
18/05/16 6:30 pm£6.50
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This special event features eight short films about people’s relationships with cities in the Arab world that are being altered and destroyed by conflict. The showing features a selection of documentaries, animation and drama from Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria.
The films explore the physical and mental landscape of the city, and the shifting social relationships that accompany such urban transformations. Often the city is a character in its own right, with stories to tell about everyday experiences during turbulent events or the haunting legacy of past wars. The films offer complex, nuanced perspectives not often found in reporting on conflict in the the Arab world.
The screening will be followed by a discussion led by Director of the BBC Arabic Festival Sheyma Buali, featuring Lebanese filmmaker Sabine El Chamaa, filmmaker and co-founder of a free film training centre in Baghdad Maysoon Pachachi, and filmmaker, curator and scholar Viola Shafik.
Film running order:
Promenade, Sabine El Chamaa (Lebanon | 2009 | 11 mins)
During a war, an elderly woman goes to her own destroyed house and picks one stone at a time, to bring back with her pieces from the walls in her house, which she rebuilds, secretly, in her new room.
Waves ’98, Ely Dagher (Lebanon | 2015 | 15 mins)
Set between Beirut’s post-war climate of recovery in the 90’s and today’s sense of crumbling, this animated film is Omar’s story. One day, he ventures into the segregated city, experiencing a vision that leads him into its depths, where he discovers a world he didn’t know existed. Winner of the short film Palme d’Or at Cannes.
War Canister, Yahya Al Allaq (Iraq | UK | Netherlands | Hungary | 2012 | 11 mins)
A 10-year-old deaf Iraqi boy steals an oil canister to help his family. A comedy drama about resilience, in which the canister is lost and found, and shared, despite the fuel scarcity.
A Candle for the Shabandar Café, Emad Ali (Iraq | 2007 | 23 mins)
Generations of Iraqis came to discuss literature and politics at the Shabandar Café in Al Mutanabbi Street in the old centre of Baghdad. In 2007, a massive car bomb killed and wounded scores of people, destroying the café and, with it, a whole intellectual culture.
Kamkameh, Areej Abu Eid & Eslam Elayan (Palestine | 2011 | 6 mins)
Unusual documentary exploring Gaza as a culture of hiding, both personally and socially – people veiled and masked, above and under the ground.
Suleima, Jalal Maghout (Syria/Lebanon | 2014 | 15 mins)
This animated documentary is derived from the true story of a woman from Damascus. It conjures up Suleima’s memories of childhood, when she was first stirred to resist injustice, and shows the shifting relationships she experiences during the uprising. It is also a visionary portrait of the city: a haunting mixture of the real and imaginary.
A Day and a Button, Azza Hamwi (Syria | 2015 | 7 mins)
Shot with a hidden camera inside Damascus in 2014, the director explores the city’s colours and rhythm in contrast with the countryside.
Just Another Day in Egypt, Nikola Ilic & Corina Schwingruber Ilic (Switzerland | 2015 | 11 mins)
What is left of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011? The new president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, seized power and now rules the country with an iron fist. Everyday life continues, but has become more difficult, as testified by anonymous interview statements at the end of the film.
This is the first event in the The Mosaic Rooms’ series Crisis and Creativity: A Season of Contemporary Films from and about the Arab World curated by Shohini Chaudhuri.
Shohini Chaudhuri is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies at the University of Essex. Her publications include Cinema of the Dark Side: Atrocity and the Ethics of Film Spectatorship (2014) and Contemporary World Cinema: Europe, the Middle East, East Asia and South Asia (2005).
Images featured: Promenade © Neos Film and Suleima © Jalal Maghout
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