AVAILABLE FOR FREE STREAMING APRIL 8 - 30, 2022

Click here for details about how to watch a FREE program like this one on VUCAVU.

 

SWANA Film Festival

Program 1: Inconvenient Truths (60 mins)

These coming-of-age short films depict tensions within families. The characters wrestle with melancholic affects as they deal with the confrontations and aftermaths of inconvenient truths.


Program 2: Experimental Archives (59 mins)

The short films in this program rework knowledge from the past into new archives. Through methods of disorientation and collage, memory is stretched and negotiated across generations.
Black and white logo for Regina Public Library Film Theatre

Presented by the Regina Public Library Film Theatre 

SWANA Film Festival

Curated by Christina Hajjar

 

SWANA Film Festival

Lovesick / Homesick: Curatorial Statement by Christina Hajjar



The 2022 SWANA Film Festival presents moving image works that engage difficult histories through fiction, documentary, and experimental recontextualization. The films come from the SWANA region and its diasporas, invocating intergenerational memory to understand what was and what remains: the land, birthday parties, coffee grinds, talking face to (inter)face. 

In an essay titled “Filming Catastrophe,” Lebanese filmmaker Bassem Fayad writes about how catastrophe creates a sense of fragmentation, and filmmaking pursues language in the face of that, to reorganize what has been fragmented. “Emptiness and fragmentation,” Fayad writes, “can only be faced with this strange, inexplicable feeling that stands, ever and always, outside of language: love.” Although love fosters resilience in the face of war, catastrophe, or trauma, it is also our familial relationships that are the most impacted during trying times. Homesickness begets lovesickness—when homespace is disrupted, that yearning becomes a ground for the family tensions that were marked by this event.

Although love fosters resilience in the face of war, catastrophe, or trauma, it is also our familial relationships that are the most impacted during trying times.

Considering the ways in which orientalist, xenophobic, and Islamophobic tropes are perpetuated in the West, I also understand SWANA filmmaking as a deeply personal, public practice of counter-archiving. In this tradition of storytelling, SWANA filmmakers explore the affects embedded in their lineage. Feelings of curiosity, loyalty, dissidence, and existentialism are grounded by a sense of lovesickness and homesickness. 

In the programs Inconvenient Truths and Experimental Archives, we bear witness to the aesthetics of love, nuances of the mundane, and life changing moments. In these eight films, we tackle the entangled depths of longing. Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish defines longing as “an ache that does not long to ache. It is the aching stirred by pure air coming from a distant mountaintop, the ache of searching for a past happiness. But it is a healthy kind of ache, because it reminds us that we are afflicted with hope and are sentimental.”

- Essay by Christina Hajjar

In this tradition of storytelling, SWANA filmmakers explore the affects embedded in their lineage. Feelings of curiosity, loyalty, dissidence, and existentialism are grounded by a sense of lovesickness and homesickness. 

Program 1: Inconvenient Truths (60 mins)

> 00:14 | Tallahassee, dir. Darine Hotait, 2021, USA, 20 mins
> 22:37 | A Handful of Dates, dir. Hashim Hassan, 2020, Sudan, 12 mins
> 33:55 | In Vitro, dir. Larissa Sansour & Søren Lind, 2019, Palestine, 28 mins

 

Tallahassee, dir. Darine Hotait | 2021 | USA | English + Arabic | 20 mins

On the day of her release from a psychiatric facility, Mira, an Arab American woman, attends her grandmother’s 90th birthday — only to discover that her sister Lara has lied to the family that she was on a trip to Florida.
​​
Darine Hotait is an American Lebanese writer and film director. Her work focuses on the politics of identity, Arab & African diaspora, and science fiction. She has written and directed a dozen award-winning narrative short films that can be seen on Sundance Channel,  The New Yorker, AMC Networks, BBC, Forbes, Outfest, and numerous Oscar-Qualifying Film Festivals. Her work has received the support of The Sundance Institute, Comedy Central, The Independent Film Project, The Jerome Foundation, New York Council on the Arts, and New York Foundation for the Arts. Darine is the founder of Cinephilia Productions— a film incubator championing African and Arab filmmakers.
 

A Handful of Dates, dir. Hashim Hassan | 2020 | Sudan | Arabic | 12 mins

In a mythical Sudanese village between the desert and the Nile, a young boy enjoys an idyllic childhood, taking pleasure in the fertile fruits of the land and basking by the river. But the boy's precious world begins to unravel when he learns the disturbing truth behind his family's fortune, and a certain farmer's inevitable demise.

In a mythical Sudanese village between the desert and the Nile, a young boy enjoys an idyllic childhood, taking pleasure in the fertile fruits of the land and basking by the river. But the boy's precious world begins to unravel when he learns the disturbing truth behind his family's fortune, and a certain farmer's inevitable demise.
 

In Vitro, dir. Larissa Sansour & Søren Lind | 2019 | Palestine | Arabic | 28 mins

In Vitro is set in the aftermath of an eco-disaster. An abandoned nuclear reactor under the biblical town of Bethlehem has been converted into an enormous orchard. Using heirloom seeds collected in the final days before the apocalypse, a group of scientists are preparing to replant the soil above. In the hospital wing of the underground compound, the orchard’s ailing founder, 70-year-old Dunia is lying in her deathbed, as 30-year-old Alia comes to visit her. Alia is born underground as part of a comprehensive cloning program and has never seen the town she’s destined to rebuild.

Larissa Sansour is a Palestinian artist/director. Central to her work is the tug and pull between fiction and reality. In her recent works, she uses science fiction to address social and political issues. Working mainly with film, Sansour also produces installations, photos and sculptures. Sansour’s work is shown in film festivals and museums worldwide. 

Soren Lind (b. 1970) is a Danish author, director and scriptwriter. With a background in philosophy, Lind wrote books on mind, language and understanding before turning to film and fiction. He has published novels, shorts story collections and several children’s books.

These coming-of-age short films depict tensions within families. The characters wrestle with melancholic affects as they deal with the confrontations and aftermaths of inconvenient truths.

Program 2: Experimental Archives (59 mins)

> 00:14 | The Perfect Picture, dir. ​​Hala El Kouch, 2020, Lebanon, 31 mins
> 31:46 | Sira, dir. Rolla Tahir, 2018, Canada/Egypt, 6 mins 
> 37:28 | Your Father Was Born 100 years Old, and So Was the Nakba, dir. Razan AlSalah, 2017, Palestine/Canada, 7 mins
> 44:33 | Clench My Fists, dir. Sarah Trad, 2020, USA, 6 mins
> 50:30 | Bitter with a Shy Taste of Sweetness, dir. Saif Alsaegh, 2019, USA, 9 mins

 

The Perfect Picture, dir. ​​Hala El Kouch | 2020 | Lebanon | Arabic | 31 mins

Can a single traumatic event be the fatal blow that disrupts the notion of an ideal family? Lebanese filmmaker Hala El Kouch creates a therapy session setting to confront her parents about a traumatic event, and interrogates them over the course of five days. But the moment that “changed everything” for her seems to have made far less impact on her parents. The conversation takes an unexpected turn.

Hala El Kouch is an award winning Lebanese film director and photographer. But as multipotentialite, she is also a film teacher, writer, editor, colorist and voice over artist. She grew up in Nigeria, then moved to Beirut for her studies in 2008. With a bachelor in Cinema and Radio TV followed by a Masters in film directing from the Lebanese University of Fine Arts, she graduated in both with distinction. Her work is almost always known for the emotional complexity, depth and layering it holds, tackling not only personal but also social issues. Her films leave an unforgettable emotional, mental but also visual mark on the audience. Navigating the world through film and poetry is what the author envisions doing in the years to come. Pictures, words, and sounds are what move us. She wishes to be the witness and interpreter of all that is unseen and unheard — pointing out what everyone chooses to disregard. Allowing people to tap into a well of vulnerability and emotion is her way of releasing her audience from misery and pain. She believes her art speaks a language of its own, one that is universal.
 

Sira, dir. Rolla Tahir | 2018 | Canada/Egypt | Arabic | 6 mins 

Sira is an experimental essay that traces the exodus of a Sudanese family from Kuwait as a result of the Iraqi invasion. Excavated footage disrupt constructed memories as a mother recounts the evacuation, marring the bliss of her new family.

Rolla Tahir is a filmmaker and director of photography currently based in Toronto. She’s lensed short, narrative and experimental films, which screened across Canada and internationally, including the UK, the States and Guatemala. Obsessed with the durability, longevity and spontaneity of the analog film medium, Rolla has worked with Super 8, 16mm and 35mm to explore the analog process and its possibilities. Her passion in film and cinematography stems from the need to bring narratives to life, work with visionary creatives and to understand and be understood.
 

Your Father Was Born 100 years Old, and So Was the Nakba, dir. Razan AlSalah | 2017 | Palestine/Canada | Arabic | 7 mins.

Oum Ameen, a Palestinian grandmother, returns to her hometown Haifa through Google Maps Streetview, today, the only way she can see Palestine.

Based in Tio'tia:ke/Montreal, Razan AlSalah is a Palestinian filmmaker whose work is concerned with investigating material aesthetics of dis/appearance of places and people in the context of colonial image worlds. AlSalah currently teaches Intermedia and Moving Images at Concordia University in Tio'tia:ke/Montreal.
 

Clench My Fists, dir. Sarah Trad | 2020 | USA | Arabic + English | 6 mins. 

Clench My Fists is a found-footage collage video that explores the process of growing up in an Arab family deeply affected by death and grief. Using footage from the Lebanese film In the Battlefields, as well as Candy and The 100, and audio from archival recorded Lebanese funeral laments, the video looks at how men and women express grief and anger under the patriarchy, as well as how trauma and childhood experiences can evolve into mental illness and patterns of behavior as adults. 

Sarah Trad is a Lebanese American video artist and film programmer. Her work focuses on themes of how Arab identity intersects with queerness, mental health, feminism, memory, and future alternate realities. Trad is the recipient of the 2019 Rutland Vermont Art Center 77Art Artist Residency, the 2019 Plyspace Residency and Fellowship awarded by the Muncie Council for Arts and Culture, and 2011 Carol N. Schmuckler Award for Outstanding Achievement in Film. Sarah’s work has been screened at the Arab Film Festival, MENA Film Festival, Antimatter Media Art Festival, Rendezvous With Madness Festival, SuperNova Digital Animation Festival, Everson Museum of Art and Currents New Media.
 

Bitter with a Shy Taste of Sweetness, dir. Saif Alsaegh | 2019 | USA | English | 9 mins

Bitter with a Shy Taste of Sweetness contrasts the fragmented past of the filmmaker growing up in Baghdad with his surreal California present. Through poetic writing and jarring visuals, the film creates a calm and cruel sense of memory and landscape.

Saif Alsaegh is a United States-based filmmaker from Baghdad. His films have screened in festivals including Cinéma du Réel, Kurzfilm Hamburg, and Kasseler Dokfest, and in galleries and museums including the Wisconsin Triennial at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art and Rochester Contemporary Art Center. In 2021, he was a Flaherty Fellow.

The short films in this program rework knowledge from the past into new archives. Through methods of disorientation and collage, memory is stretched and negotiated across generations. 


ABOUT THE CURATOR: CHRISTINA HAJJAR


Christina Hajjar is a Lebanese artist, writer, and cultural worker based in Winnipeg, Manitoba on Treaty 1 Territory. Her practice considers intergenerational inheritance, domesticity, and place through diaspora, body archives, and cultural iconography. As a queer femme and first-generation subject, she is invested in the poetics of process, translation, and collaborative labour. Hajjar presented the first SWANA Film Festival in 2021.

ARTIST WEBSITE

Tilted image of a forest skyline with wires crossing the frame and a hilltop with a cross in the background.

Still image from Bitter with a Shy Taste of Sweetness, dir. Saif Alsaegh, 2019, USA, 9 mins
 

Workshops

Free online workshops for SWANA only (registration required).


Character Development for Screenwriters

Workshop with Darine Hotait
Saturday, April 16, 1-4pm CT
Max 6 participants
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This workshop focuses on identifying the fundamental dramatic elements of a screenplay and the tools to develop character-driven plots. Through detailed exercises, participants will explore the external and internal journey of the protagonist, their emotional arc, wants, needs, and obstacles that challenge their moral compass. This workshop is open to filmmakers with a narrative short or feature film project in development. Participants should be prepared to pitch their story. 


Voice, Vision, and Modes of Production

Workshop with Rolla Tahir
Saturday, April 23, 1-4pm CT
Max 15 participants
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This workshop will help you tap into your unique creative voice and harvest your vision as a filmmaker and storyteller. We will discuss process-oriented filmmaking, with particular attention to the ideation and development stage, as well as various modes of accessible production.

This program is presented by the Regina Public Library Film Theatre.

Click here to find out more about the RPL Film Theatre's previous curated screening on VUCAVU from 2020-2022.

PLEASE NOTE: Only the selected films that are part of VUCAVU's shared catalogue will be available for VOD.