TransArab 2009



>TransArab Casa Árabe- Madrid

14th October – 15th  November 2009

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.




Boujad, an nest in the heat, Hakim Belabbes, Moroco, 1992, 45'. VOSE

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. Belabbes' film intimately explores the domestic spaces and religious rituals of intra-family relationships, especially when compounded by one member's break with traditional values.

Cadre, Wahid El Moutanna, Morocco, 2005, 14'. VOSE

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.

Tilawin, Nora Bouhjar, Morocco / Belgium, 2002, 11'. VOSE

“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”

Tunnel Trade, Saeed Taji Farouky, Laila El-Haddad, Palestine, 2007, 21'. VOSE

The tunnel trade is not merely a black market, it is a multi-million dollar, top-secret industry run with military-style efficiency, and one of the most lucrative businesses in Palestine.During some of Gaza’s worst ever infighting, Tourist With A Typewriter teamed up with Gaza journalist and celebrated blogger Laila El-Haddad for an exclusive investigation into this underground trade from the perspective of the families who run it.

Bizim Deniz – Marenostrum, Ethem Ozguven, Turkey,  2008, 30'. VOSE

In this documentary, director Ethem Ozguven records the gradually disappearing culture of fishermen in small Turkish towns and villages on the Mediterranean coast. He only occasionally lets local fisherman talk to his disinterested camera, as they nostalgically recall the days when fishing could maintain an entire family without any problems. In recent years, however, they can barely scrape by due to various directives limiting fishing an ever-declining fish stocks. The film also draws attention to the fact that it is not just fish that are disappearing from these places, but the previously numerous Greek community as well.


ROOM  2 _ Emigration - Borders 2h 40'

La Forêt, Àlex Muñoz, Colectivo Frontera Sur, Morocco / Spain , 2005 , 25'. VOSE

In Benyounes forest, “la forêt” as they called their habitants, was the last stage of a long trip for thousands of people coming from Sub-Saharan Africa. Close to the fence that divides Ceuta (Spain) from Morocco, they establish in a variable time, before flank the last obstacle in they way to Europe. The border it’s close. Systematic violation of human rights, financed with the tax of the democratic European Union citizens. The migrants organize themselves in spaces like this and construct spaces; support nets in Moroccan territory, confronting and resisting this way the European politics. In the forest of Benyounes, they organized themselves from origin communities. In February of 2005, decided between all the community’s, record this video, to made visible their situation, in with they report the systematic violation of their human rights, the absolutely abandonment from the NGO’s, Associations an Human Rights Institutions, an they demand their citizens condition and they require their rights as human beings.

On Translation: Miedo/Jauf, Antoni Muntadas, Morocco / Spain, 2007, 52'. VOSE

“On Translation: Miedo/Jauf is not a work on African/European emigration/immigration. Nor is it a work on religion or on terrorism. Two different realities separated not by the sea but by border fences and boundaries on both sides. The search for the north, with its man-made paradises that for many remain lost; fear as an emotion/sensation inserted in the decision of crossing. The construction of the south as a fiction/reality linked to phenomena of the unknown, exoticism and difference”.

Sólo Valiente, Àlex Muñoz, Morocco / Spain, 2007 , 60' . VOSE

The port of Tangiers is a transit zone, and many travellers and goods pass through each day in huge trucks bound for destinations all over Europe. This is why large numbers of children and adults live in the port, waiting for an opportunity to hide under one of the trucks and cross the border into the Schengen zone. Almost all of them have a home and a family. Locals spend some time there and then return to their homes to build up strength for the next attempt. Those whose homes are far away settle among the containers or find a more or less inconspicuous hideaway in the port. Abdelghani is one of the minors who has decided to leave his family in southern Morocco to try and cross over to Spain.

Anya (Straight Stories - Part 2), Bouchra Khalili France-Turkey. 2008. 12' VOSE

Straight Stories is a video project taken place in border areas, where physical and imaginary geography are made indistinguishable. The second part combines a double track. On one hand, a twelve minute journey from Detroit to this Asian shore to European Istanbul. On the other hand, the story tells of a young Iraqi refugee, reflecting his experience of waiting, and his need for hope.


ROOM 3_ Gender- Transgender 1h 20’

El Batalett – Femmes de la Medina, Dalila Ennadre, Morocco / France, 2002, 60'. VOSE

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, 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 lives with a great sense of awareness, but without self-pity. They show a surprising vitality, curiosity for life and solidarity. These house-proud 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, and 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").

A Jihad for love, Parvez Sharma, India 2007, 80'. VOSE

Fourteen centuries after the revelation of the holy Qur'an to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), Islam today is the world's second largest and fastest growing religion. Muslim gay filmmaker Parvez Sharma travels the many worlds of this dynamic faith discovering the stories of its most unlikely storytellers: lesbian and gay Muslims. Filmed over 5 1/2 years, in 12 countries and 9 languages, "A Jihad for Love" comes from the heart of Islam. Looking beyond a hostile and war-torn present, this film seeks to reclaim the Islamic concept of a greater Jihad, which can mean 'an inner struggle' or 'to strive in the path of God'. In doing so the film and its remarkable subjects move beyond the narrow concept of 'Jihad' as holy war.



Mast Qalandar, Till Passow, Pakistan - Germany, 2005, 30'. VOSE

Above all, Mast Qalandar (Ecstasy) is a look at heterodoxy and a celebration of its existence. Qalandars are a Sufi brotherhood of roaming dervishes who once ranged through an arch that crossed Asia, from Turkey to Pakistan and India. They are characterized by extreme mystical devotion and their revolutionary and anti-dogmatic attitudes within Islam, such as use of hachis and the rejection of alcohol and free submission to Haqq, the truth, which they see as the absence of limits rather than something which narrows and defines horizons. “Mast Qalandar” immerses us in the ritual encounter of these dervishes around the grave of the brotherhood’s founder in Pakistan. A vision of heir devotion to “the beloved” that leads them into trance and ecstasy, where death means simply to “draw aside a veil”.

Last Night Dhikr, Abu Ali, Morocco, 2005, 7'
The search for water, the descent deep into the well of the heart. Based on a 17th Century Persian poem by Najmudin Kubra.

The City of Saba, DJ KadagianFour Seasons, USA 2006. 10'. VOSE

Based on a poem by Jalal ud din Rumi.

Seffar – Fes inner City, Abu Ali, Morocco, 2004, 14'. VOSE

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.

Whispers, Hakim Belabbes, Morcco / EE.UU., 1999, 15'

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.

La Caravanne de Mé Aïsha, Dalila Ennadre , Morocco / France, 2002, 50'. VOSE

The life story of an elderly Mauritanian woman, Aïcha Messaoud, who spent her whole life as part of Sheik Ma-el-Aïnïne’s distinguished family of nomads and now lives in the small Moroccan village of Tata, in the northern part of Western Sahara. The filmmaker sets out to trace the memories of her heroine. Stage after stage, she travels through thousands of kilometres across the desert, encountering the descendants of the Sheik.



Patchwork (Njakhass), Oumy Ndour, Senegal, 2007, 26'.VOSE

Baye Fall is a Muslim practice derived from mouridism, a Sufi based faith deeply rooted within Senegalese culture. Through the story of one family, the film explores the beliefs and lifestyle of Baye Fall followers.

New Muslim Cool, Jennifer Maytorena Taylor, USA., 2009, 82' . VOSE

Puerto Rican American rapper Hamza Pérez ended his life as a drug dealer 12 years ago, and started down a new path as a young Muslim. Now he’s moved to Pittsburgh’s tough North Side to start a new religious community, rebuild his shattered family, and take his message of faith to other young people through his uncompromising music as part of the hip-hop duo M-Team. But when the FBI raids his mosque, Hamza must confront the realities of the post-9/11 world, and challenge himself.



Fallujah, Deep Dish TV, Iraq / USA, 2005, 30'  . VOSE

Fallujah is a collaborative production created by Iraqi and American filmmakers. After a major US led offensive launch in November of 2004, two-thirds of the city was destroyed and thousands of its citizens were forced into refugee camps. Code Pink commissioned Iraqi filmmaker Homodi Hasim to send a team of videomakers and investigative journalists to Fallujah to record the destruction and death inflicted by the American assault. He also interviewed many of the thousands of Fallujah residents who were forced to live in refugee camps on the outskirts of Fallujah and Baghdad.

Reel Bad Arabs. How Hollywood Vilifies a People., Jack Saheen - EMF Educational Media Foundation, EEUU 2006. 50'. VOSE

This groundbreaking documentary dissects a slanderous aspect of cinematic history that has run virtually unchallenged from the earliest days of silent film to today's biggest Hollywood blockbusters.

Je vous ai compris, Sheikh el Haffid, Argelia, 2006, 15'. VOSE

1958 General De Gaulle pronunces -in a very convulse and tragic moment for an Argelia under rigorous represion and torture- its famous and demagogic “Je vous ai Compris” (I understand you). A reading on several audiovisual documents of that time gives to us an opposite meaning to that sentence. “Je vous ai Compris” now means and show us the real sense of the civilizational work of the western powers. Today so enthusiaticly renovated.



Little Lake, Ethem Ozguven, Turkey, 2002, 5'

With modern tourism, where is that “lake”, called the Mediterranean?

Recycling [ri:’saiklin], Abdelaziz Taleb, Morocco / Germany, 2002, 4' VOSE

Zweig said: "only the individual introduces the independence into the word... And for him only"

They Were Here (Enahoum Kanoo Honna), Ammar Al Beik, Syria 2000, 8'

Coming to terms with the end of the industrial era, They Were Here is an elegant and eloquently composed study that reverberates with lives lived, fading images and relics of retrospection. El-Beik makes a tightly drawn piece about public space, private contemplation and an ephemeral sensibility.

Festin, Mounir Fatmi, Morocco / France, 2002, 8'.

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, Lebanon 2002, 15'. VOSE
“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.”

ATMC (Arab Terrorist Management Camp), Dalia al Kury, Jordan, 2004, 9' . VOSE
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”.

I, Soldier, Koken Ergun , Turkey - Germany, 2005, 7'13''. VOSE

“I, Soldier” is the first part of Köken Ergun’s video series in which he deals with the state-controlled ceremonies for the national days of the Turkish Republic. The nationalistic attributes attached to these largescale ceremonies are underlined in a non-descriptive and almost voyeuristic point of view. “I, Soldier” was shot at the National Day for Youth and Sports, the day that marks the start of the independence war of the Turkish republic under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk against the Allied Forces back in 1919.

July Trip, Waël Noureddine , Lebanon / France, 2006, 35'. VOSE

Beirut, July 2006. Israeli bombings strike the city. While Beirut is still on fire, the filmmaker starts a journey across his native land. The film is not a documentary - although the images are burningly real - but an essay. Using two complementary techniques, 16 mm film and HDV, the artist questions the deep foundations of the documentary genre. The eye of the cameras goes through a country in a state of terror, it records the immediate effects of war when it touches civilians.

Planet of the arabs, Jackie Salloum, USA., 2003, 9'. VOSE

Planet of the Arabs is 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.

Vue Aérienne, Bouchra Khalili, Morocco / Spain, 2006., 10'. VOSE

An aerial journey over an unspecified major western city. At the same time, voices evoke meetings, failed or still to come, cinema as utopia and “the world as the will to represent”.

  • Video Concerning the Arab World 3