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.