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.
24 - 28 January 2006
7pm Presentation of >Transarab with the participation of: Bouchra Khalili, Serene Huleileh, (Arab Educational Forum * Qalb el-Umour), Abdelaziz Taleb and Abdellatif Benfaidoul (Videokaravaan), Toni Serra (OVNI - Arxius del l'Observatori).
8.15pm. TRANSIT 1. Programmed by: Arxius de l'Observatori - OVNI 68 minutes.
Majounak (Loco por Ti), Akram Zaatari, 27' Lebanon, 1997
A group of men in Lebanon talk about their occasional relationships with women, a catalogue of dreams and violence, desires and words. Saving Face, Jalal Toufic, 9’, Lebanon 2003. The remains of an election campaign, parts of torn posters looking out from the walls, mute faces in the city.
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.
7pm. MEDITERRANEO, MEDITERRANEO. Programmed by: Bouchra Khalili, 75 minutes.
A cause de la Nuit, Bouchra Khalili, 10' , 2004
”A cause de la Nuit” returns to the idea of “Napoli Centrale” and intensifies it: a nocturnal ride near the coastline. A departure is imminent, or maybe a return. Real or imaginary.
Vue Panoramique, Bouchra Khalili, 15', 2005.
“Vue Panoramique” draws a circular path between two shores. We see the comings and goings of a boat, the languid rolling of anchored craft, the activity of the passengers, and the wait. At the same time, a female voice describes a wander through a village surrounded by the sea.
RoundTrip, Bouchra Khalili, 20', 2005
A man who is not there. A woman who receives his letters. She reads them to us, but remains out of sight. The man who sends the letters describes his journey. In the end, he stops writing. Has the journey, then, ended?
The Magician: A Tragicomedy of Illusions, Yto Barrada, 18' , 2003
"The hands of the magician are faster than the eyes of the spectator." Abdelouahid El Hamri, aka Sinbad of the Straits In the case of Sinbad, however, the surprises of prestidigitation are sometimes less magical than quite worldly. This private display of Sinbad's illusions, in front of a black curtain in the courtyard Mr. El Hamri's house in Tangier, includes the appearance of a number of ping-pong balls and white doves, swallowing of razor blades, and an attempt to reproduce his difficult trick "How to Make a Chicken Go to Sleep” .
1 minute à Rome. Nina Esber, 7’, 2005
After the 20th of December 2002, I decided to record 1 minute a day, no exceptions, with my DV camera. “1 minute à Rome” is the video of my visit to “the eternal city” from the 17th to the 21st of February 2005.
Little Lake. Ethem Ozgüven. 5’, 2002
In a world with modern tourism, where is that “Lake”, called the Mediterranean?
20h 15'. Videokaravaan 1 Programmed by: Abdelaziz Taleb and Abdellatif Benfaidoul. 76 minutes.
Pour ne pas oublier – 16 Mai, Nabil Ayouch, 15', Morocco 2003
Casablanca witnessed a series of suicide bombings on May 16, 2003. They were the deadliest terrorist attacks in Morocco’s history. Acclaimed Moroccan filmmaker Nabil Ayouch reacted immediately making this short documentary: in order not to forget.
Backstage- Rock the Kasbah, David Combe, Jean-marc Barbieux et Sophie Peyrard, Programm33 et ARTE France, 14' , France – Germany, 2005
With the sound of metal or hip hop, Moroccan youth wants to face the power. A new generation claims the right to the word. Meet with H-Kayne, Reborn, Hoba Hoba Spirit, Mystic Moods.
Last years in Babylon 1999-2005, (work in progress. extracts & fragments), Abdelaziz Taleb, 15’, Morocco - Europe, 2005
Our minds and bodies keep throwing things away psychologically and physically during the process of life. Sometime we come back, looking for life where it was and employing a great effort of resignation, regret, freedom, guilt, happiness. My come back was deriving a sense of “belonging“ from my old environment: they were my last years in Babylon.
Cadre, Wahid El Moutanna, 13’, Morocco, 2005
A man planned to get married. From there, everything starts. A series of photos, which retrace his evolution (death, separation, distance and birth) in a fixed frame with a masculine voice in off which tells us the invisible stories behind the photos.
Oulad l’ Viêt Nam (Children of Vietnam), Yann Barte, 13' , Morocco 2005
Morocco has forgotten them. In 1972, thousand of Moroccan Vietnamese families arrived at RABAT- SALE military base. Moroccans with their Vietnamese wives and children. Who has ever heard about them? Who remembers them now?
Memory Codes, Abdellatif Benfaidoul, 6', Morocco- Netherlands, 2005
With Black, White and Colour codes I reconstruct my Memories and a place where they can meet with my fear, worries and disappointments.
7pm. TRANSIT 2. Programmed by Arxius de l'Observatori - OVNI 54 minutes.
Festin, Mounir Fatmi, 8', France, 2002
How to escape from the trap? How to fight the monster of need that makes you lose your human shape, that itch that you can’t stop thinking about and makes that you dependent, a prisoner of consumption, a slave to an artificial paradise? All these questions are taken from the books of William Burroughs.
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: ‘What happened?’ ‘Most likely, Israel has once more attacked the power stations.’ The nocturnal is not reserved for the night in Lebanon: even during daylight, doesn’t 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.”
Made in China, Dalia al Kury, 5', Jordan 2004
A sensual journey of the fifth sense and its relationship to consumption.
Biographie de la Pierre, Abdelghani Bibt, 7', Morocco, 2004
The biography of stone is an angry roar, a roar of indignation and opposition to the crimes and cruelty that occur all over the world, a cry against the harshness of stone that refuses all dialogue.
ATMC, Dalia al Kury, 9', Jordan, 2004.
When terrorism becomes even more closely linked to Arabs and Islam, a terror prevention rehabilitation camp known as the (Arab Terrorist Management Camp) is designed to help potential Arab terrorists overcome their terrorist tendencies. The film starts off in a documentary fashion but slowly takes the shape of an infomercial mocking the capitalization on "terrorism”.
Planet of the Arabs, Jackie Salloum, 10’, USA, 2003
An experimental short illustrating Hollywood's 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.
8pm. Arab Educational Forum * Qalb el-Umour * - 1 Programmed by Serene Huleileh. 53 minutes.
Safar (Travel), Dimitri Khodr and Cynthia Choucair, 30', Jordan, 2003
The directors follow in the footsteps of some of the inspiring initiatives that the Arab Education Forum works with in Jordan, Egypt and Morocco, trying to uncover the meaning of the vision and ideas of the Arab Education Forum. At the same time, they try to reach a more profound understanding of learning and education as they relate to life. Some of the initiatives featured are the El Warsha theatre group and Hasan Geretly in Egypt, Laila Iskandar and the school for the garbage collectors' children in Moqattam, Cairo, and Samar Dudin in Jordan, as well as some Amazeegh farmers and fishermen in Morocco.
The story of Hajar, Azza al Hassan, 23', Palestine, 2004
This film traces the story of Hajar, a 70 + year old Palestinian woman living in the village of Kobar, in her struggles as she joined her husband in south America who was killed there and later returned with 10 children to Palestine and fought a fierce battle with the Israeli occupation to bring her husband’s body and bury it in his village, and acquire identity cards for her children, at the same time as she had to secure their livelihood. A typical story of a simple woman with superhuman willpower.
7pm. Videokaravaan 2 Programmed by: Abdelaziz Taleb and Abdellatif Benfaidoul. 60 minutes.
El Batalett – Femmes de la medina. Dalila Ennadre, 60’ , Morocco - France 2002
We follow the director's camera into the kitchens and living rooms of a community of Moroccan women. Inside the walls of their apartment in Casablanca's old Medina, the women cook, clean, take care of their families and help each other. With their hands in the dough, in the soap whilst washing the laundry, whilst doing the house chores, in the market or at the hammam, between laughter and tears ("We are housewives, that's all. … Our sport? House cleaning!"), these courageous women, proud of their role, talk about their miserable life with a great sense of awareness, but without self-pity. They show a surprising vitality, curiosity for life and solidarity. These houseproud housewives may not all know how to read, but they know exactly what would improve their lives: equal rights for women and men, more money, a better future for their children so they wouldn't have to emigrate to support the family. A sense of hope and the possibility of change radiate out of the everyday lives of these heroines ("batalett").
8pm. TRANSIT 3. Programmedn by: Arxius de l'Observatori - OVNI 56 minutos.
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 neighbourhood moving to the city destruction.
Meen Erhabe (Who is the Terrorist?), Jackie Salloum, 4’, EE.UU- Palestine, 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.
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 women's circle”.
Anoche Dikr, Abu Ali, 7’ Morocco, 2005
Images of others, unclear visions, lost scenes. Is it in these fragments that one can find oneself? Like an empty pail going down into a well, a forgetting that plunges into memory.
Whispers, Hakim Belabbes, 15’, Moroco - USA, 1999
Hakim Belabbes' Whispers follows a man's obsessive search for his lost childhood through the dark alleyways and desolate cemeteries of the director's Moroccan hometown, Boujad.
Not God but God (Syria Collection), Jeanette Schou, 9’, Syria- Denmark, 2004
The Islamic Sufism is an ancient religious movement. On some issues it is in opposition to the common or fundamental Islam. Therefore Sufism has been suppressed by both the religious and political powers. Through ecstatic dancing by mystic and meditation the Sufi seeks oneness with God. Most recognised are the whirling dervishes but the practise of Sufism can also take other forms. This video shows Sufi rituals as performed in Syria which have relationship with the practise of the fakirs. The tradition is passed on from generation to generation. The video shows beautiful but also very profound and violent images.
6pm Arab Educational Forum * Qalb el-Umour * - 2 Programmed by: Serene Huleileh. 50 minutes.
In the School for the Deaf. A group of deaf children, 12’, Palestine, 2004
A group of deaf children make a film about their lives. The film is in sign language translated into Arabic.
The Chewing Gum Gang, Isra’a Odeh, 16’, Palestine,2004
A young girl’s attempt to work with a group of children who sell chewing gum to make a film about their lives. The film ends up chronicling her relationship with them, and their relationships with each other and society.
Trio, Jaffar Hameih, Maysaloon Nassar, Nadeen Kanawati., 14’, Lebanon, 2004
The film explores the life of its three directors as they search for a university after graduating from school and as they contemplate their future.
I Don’t Know, Nadeen Kanawati, 6’ Lebanon, 2004
A voyage through a teenager’s thoughts about her life and surroundings.
7pm. TRANSIT 4 Programmed by Arxius de l'Observatori - OVNI 75 minutes.
Can baz - "The one who plays with his life", Özay Sahin, 75',Turkey-Germany, 2005
“Your white paths / Your pure paths / have mingled with the water from the mountain stream. / Your breath has mixed with the breath of Haydar. / Born dead in this century. / A part of us is lost through erosion / A part of us is burning in Hakkari (East Anatolia) / A part of us is sniffing glue in Beyoglu (Istanbul).” Taken from a song from Siya Siyabend group Can Baz is a film made from the perspective of a member of the Alevi Kirmanc in East Anatolia, whose religious philosophy is expressed in the statement: What you seek, seek not in Mecca, not in Kaaba and not in Jerusalem, seek rather in yourself. The effects of the last massive annihilative attack, which began in 1994, can be refound in the example of Murat and Ahmet Öztürk, two brothers living in exile and addicted to drugs in Istanbul-Beyoglu. The film portrays their life with their band, Siya Siyabend; their friend Hasan Isik, an inhalant-sniffing street kid; and their pursuit of freedom by the wrong means. When we want to remind them of their roots in Dersim (East Anatolia), we go back to find more soldiers than civilians and a geography which has been renamed into Turkish ”Tunceli" and which will be completely flooded by eight hydraulic dams, currently under construction. In our world, where apparent security quickly changes its form, the condition of having nothing to lose and sleeping on the street is a consequential correspondence in the way of life. Even as death is brought closer to raise the tension of living, the wish exists to play Don Quixote as long as you’re already there. The guilt is their own in the name of all people, witness is the sky.
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