The idea behind >TransArab is to show the richness and complexity of reflections on and about countries with an Arabic culture through video, a hybrid medium which allows for autonomous production, independent of major commercial or institutional productions... and which, by it’s nature, is much more closely linked to social, community and subjective microcosms than to “satellite” vision and “audiovisual fastfood”.
The program includes video makers from different kinds of backgrounds: some produce their work in their own countries, others are part of European or American migration... and others come from different contexts but, for critical or personal motives, have decided to immerse themselves in this other culture. We think that the reflection is made richer by this difference in the situations of the authors, which also helps to give a better understanding of the complexities of the tensions at play, and to offer new and more open keys for approaching this culture. In these countries, the language of video is inseparable from their culture: the rich tradition of written as well as oral literature, the music, trance, rituals, popular religion, mystic poetry....All of these are present in daily life, without having being turned into “folk” culture or institutionalised and thus deactivated or neutralised, and so they retain the force that comes from being a popular medium for participation and knowledge, interiorisation and ecstasy.
A shared characteristic: the use of video as a tool for analysis and critique of the silenced realities of a particularly conflictive contemporaneity, and also for introspection and exploration of private life. Works that think about and sense the relationships between the individual and the community, gender issues, ethnocentricity, neo-colonialism, migration, media hostility...Arising from specific situations within the cultures themselves, they contribute shared elements and also an “otherness” that is essential for the increasingly necessary self-criticism of the so-called “Western” model.
Program screened at:
- La Casa Encendida. Madrid. Agost - September 2005.
- Centro Cultural Puertas de Castilla. Múrcia. May 2005.
- Filmoteca Canaria. Tenerife. Las Palmas. May 2005.
- Centro Cultural Cajastur Muralla Romana. Gijón. May 2004.
- CaixaForum. Mediateca de la Fundació la Caixa. Barcelona. October 2003.
Napoli Centrale, Bouchra Khalili, 9', Italy / Morocco / France, 2002
The night crossing of a Mediterranean city by car. Its passenger stay there almost invisible, absorbed by the urban view. A voice confirms a lonely night wandering in a city by the sea, an urban journey made to let the time pass away. Who crosses this city isnmint only passing through it. Hemins a local, for a night, before an exile without return.
Seffar [Fes Ciudad Interior], Abu Ali, 11', Morocco / Spain, 2004
From the series "Fez Ciudad Interior". Silences and wind in the olive trees, contemplation, labyrinths and dreams. Abdelfettah Seffar, a craftsman who lived in London for years and decided to return, talks about Fez, a veiled city, and reflects of the West and its conflicts.
Boujad, an nest in the heat, Hakim Belabbes, 45', USA / Morocco, 1992
Boujad is a personal and anguishing look at issues of separaton, independence and return. As director Hakim Belabbes chronicles his journey from his home in Chicago to visit his family in his hometown of Boujad in Morocco, his exploration of family relationships is self-conscious and at times painfully honest. We witness his most private moments with his family. Belabbesmin film intimately explores the domestic spaces and religious rituals of intra-family relationships, especially when compounded by one membermins break with traditional values.
Recycling [ri:minsaiklin]. Abdelaziz Taleb, 4', Morocco - Germany 2003
Stefan Zweig said: "only that which is individual creates independence in the world, and for that person only..."
The Globe, Abdelatif Benfaidoul, 5', The Netherlands - Morocco, 2003
"A commentary on the silent side that surrounds the act of war, the film illustrates my sensibility as a human being to the small details, which pass, unnoticed in a war..."
Tensión / Tawattor. Rashid Masahrawi, 26', Palestine, 1998
How do you represent that which has been drained of meaning, misrepresented to the point of oversaturation, yet underappreciated and neglected to the point of absurdity? Time stretches eternally, oppressing your daily life to the smallest and largest degree, in humiliating detail, regular check points, opening boxes, behavior engulfed by silence. Masharawi succeeds brilliantly in silently depicting the daily abuses of life under occupation, the regulation and control superimposed, and the suffocating repression enacted and enforced by the Israeli military presence in Palestine. (Jayce Salloum)
Territorie(s). Malek Bensmail, 28', Algeria, 1996
Pain and mass media in Algeria. Territoire(s) is a creative documentary dealing with the idea of territoriality. By mixing and confronting archival, contemporary, and fictional images, the document present a personal point of view about violence in integrism, terrorism, and post-modern technology. Three sections are entitled : Algeria and Archaïc violence, The West and the violence of the hyper modernity and the Terrorism and Media.
Our Village, Qalb El Umur Films Project, 10', Palestine, 2001
In Our Village, six girls aged 12 -15 years presents they village which they " love and Cherish " ufr Niminmeh. In this film we see details of life in a Palestinian village, including the agricultural seasons, the village houses, as well as the old part of the village which was destroyed before the film was finished, so we begin with the old houses and end with the image of their destruction.
Untitled Part 3b: (As if) Beauty Never Ends, Jayce Salloum, 11min Libannon - Canada, 2002
Images of orchids opening, plants sprouting, clouds and water superimposed onto images of the Sabra and Chatila refugee camp massacre in Lebanon in 1982. The voice of Abdel Majid Fadl Ali Hassan (a refugee from 1958 who lives in the Bourg El Harajneh camp) tells how his house in Palestine was destroyed.
Untitled Part 1: Everything and Nothing, Jayce Salloum, 41', França - Canadà, 1999-2001
An intimate dialogue with ex-Lebanese National Resistance fighter Soha Bechara in Paris, taped (during the last year of the Israeli occupation) one year after her release from captivity in El-Khiam torture and interrogation centre in Lebanon where she was detained for 10 years, six in isolation.
Living in Barcelona, Zhor Rehihil,15', Spain - Morocco, 2001
In a short workshop in Barcelona, Zohr made this video about Moroccan immigration.
Quand les hommes pleurent.... Yasmine Kassari, 57', Morocco, 2000
A documentary filmed in Andalucia, dealing with illegal immigration from Morocco. This politically far-sighted film tells the stories of these Moroccan immigrants and the shame and impotence they feel, unable to return home and reveal their failure to their families and friends. Men cry.....when they realise that they are in a dead-end street. A moment of unbearable suffering, beyond limits. The end of everything, the unspeakable. A cry from the soul that falls into the bland silence of a system that is too well organised and determined to buy their strength and their silence. A cry within absolute silence. An extreme situation in which it is impossible to leave, and impossible to stay.
Tilawin, Nora Bouhjar, 11', Morocco - Belgium, 2002
"The need to find a part of myself and renew cultural ties. This is what led me to Morocco, to a small Berber village, to become part of a family and enter into the private womenmins circle?".
Hamdulillah Dar al Ajira, Abu Ali, 5', Morocco - Spain, 2004
A strange Sheikh in a barely-glimpsed place: "Destiny is as wide as a hand and four fingers, the width of a grave. The man who owns 40 buses, what does he really have? The man who owns 4 houses, poor fellow! What does he have? A grave!...".
Hamdulillah Dhia, Abu Ali, 6', Morocco - Spain, 2004
The sacrifice. The lessons of death, its open spaces.
Phantom Beirut: A Tribute to Ghassan Salhab, Jalal Toufic, 15', Lebanon, 2002
"He was starting to unbutton her shirt on the night of 7-8 February 2000, when the room became suddenly dark: minWhat happened?min minMost likely, Israel has once more attacked the power stations.min The nocturnal is not reserved for the night in Lebanon: even during daylight, doesnmint a shade of the night appear every time the electricity is off due to electricity-rationing? Through this additional period of darkness during which they do not sleep, the Lebanese have turned into quasi insomniacs. The spells of periodic cut off of electricity have allowed me, who is otherwise not an insomniac, to better appreciate my insomniac friend the filmmaker and writer Ghassan Salhab."
Saving Face, Jalal Toufic, 9', Lebanon, 2003
Were all the candidatesmin faces posted on the walls of Lebanon during the parliamentary campaign of 2000 waiting for the results of the elections? No. As faces, they were waiting to be saved. Far better than any surgical face-lift or digital retouching, it was the physical removal of part of the poster of the face of one candidate so that the face of another candidate would partially appear under it; as well as the accretions of posters and photographs over each other that produced the most effective face-lift, and that proved a successful face-saver for all concerned. We have in these resultant recombinant posters one of the sites where Lebanese culture in specific, and Arabic culture in general, mired in an organic view of the body, in an organic body, exposes itself to inorganic bodies.
They Were Here (Enahoum Kanoo Honna), Ammar Al Beik, 8', Syria, 2000
A ghostly, eloquent portrait of an abandoned steam-engine plant and the men who labored there for four decades.
Majounak - Loco por Ti, Akram Zaatari, 20', Lebanon, 1997
Set in the industrial suburbs of Beirut, Majnounak portrays three men, who count very openly the beginning, middle, and end of a sexual relationship each one of them had. The video explores the image of the "masculine" that appeals to the three boys and to many other young men of their age. The shaping of the body, the verbal sexual language, songs and signs become elements that articulate the boysmin fantasies. Their stories start with seduction and ends after screwing. This is the image they want to project of themselves in front of the camera, the one of the "courageous, seductive". In such a context, desire transforms into commodity and relationships lead to defeat.
Cinema Fouad, Mohammed Soueid, 41', Lebanon, 1993
Khaled, a Syrian worker earns his living in old town Beirut. He was born transvestite. Ever since he suffered of his sexual identity. Yet, he has determined to change his sex by a surgery which allows him to become a woman. This film enters into Khaledmins intimate world, daily struggle and damages that inflict him in an intolerant society.
Out of Focus, Rashid Masharawi, 15' Palestine, 2000
Min It mins when the mind fails to catch the necessary details, and gives a cloudy picturemin. But the picture here is clear, since life was a grain of wheat until it became a bloodshedding. It mins when the heart loses its way home, if it changes its name. But the oil here lights, from Jerusalem to Nazareth. It mins what the eyes, tired of long sleep, see. But the eyes here are open, havenmint closed for years. It could be a child looking for the necessary serenity to meditate. His feet led him to the cemetery. It could be. (Jayce Salloum)
A day in our Life, Qalb El Umur Films Project, 10', Palestine, 2001
In the film A Day in our Life, the children aged 12-16 years present their life in the Amari refugee camp in Ramallah. They use documentary as well as role play to introduce the audience to details of daily life in a refugee camp in Ramallah, including peoplemins memory which is an integral part of their life.
Lions, Nahed Awwad, 10', Palestine, 2002
This film takes you to the city of Ramallah during the 2nd - and not last - invasion by Israeli troops in April 2002. It is what I saw, heard and experienced starting from neighborhood moving to the city destruction.
Meen Erhabe (Who is the Terrorist?), 10', Jackie Salloum, Palestine - USA, 2003
Video footage questioning who is the terrorist and why. Reflection on the daily conflict in the occupied territories accompanied by Rap music produced by youth under occupation and inspired by the Intifada.
Planet of the Arabs, Jackie Salloum, 9', USA, 2003
"Planet of the Arabs" is an experimental short illustrating Hollywoodmins relentless vilification and dehumanization of Arabs and Muslims by making use of TV and film clips to create a "preview" for the ultimate Hollywood movie.
Nablus, la ciudad fantasma, Alberto Arce, María Moreno, 32', Palestine - Spain, 2004
An inside view from the streets of the events that took place over one week in the Palestinian city of Nablus in August 2004. The camera takes us into the world of children who play at being soldiers in an army that has stones and motives as its only weapons. In the midst of Israeli gunshots and bombs, a dialogue takes place with soldiers who sometimes seem more frightened than their own victims. The camera, with a group of international activists and paramedics, follows the soldiers as they search the city house by house. The international presence also acts as an "occupier-witness" of the zone of impunity in which Israel regularly acts.
Iraq - In The Name of Freedom, An-Nahda Media Productions, 34', UK, 2004
The coalition forces before the launch of their war on Iraq promised the removal of a Saddam style dictatorship with the implementation of freedom and democracy. It was in the name of Freedom that Britain and America launched a brutal war on the people of Iraq who are predominantly Muslim. Far from accepting the occupation of the coalition forces, the people of Iraq have refused to be forced to accept democracy and freedom. In replacement of Saddam, America has installed a new dictator and continues its onslaught on cities and villages in Iraq that wish to remain independent. This powerful and moving documentary will question the justification of the whole war, expose the butchery inflicted upon the Iraqi people and set a vision (for action) for the Muslim communities in Britain and the West.