I interviewed Lebanese filmmaker Rania Stephan about her new film, The Three Disappearance of Soad Hosni. It was published in Little White Lies:
Wednesday, 24 August 2011
Monday, 1 August 2011
War is the overlying topic. The Kingdom starts with images of Americans in a compound in Riyadh playing softball. All the right touches, glowing sun, tapping the base with the brass bat, moms and kids, blondes and so on. Next thing you know, its men in thobes shouting “Allahu Akbar”! and blowing themselves up. Going on a rampage with a machine gun, there is just blood, screams and destruction. Of course, the FBI is going over to help.
Commercial break takes us to an average English girl at a desk looking for a job; she finds one. Zoom into Beirut, the girl explains that this is ‘no ordinary job.’ It’s an ad for positions at the Royal Air Force. She has to help British citizens get out of the Lebanon. It’s a good deed.
This can be looked at in so many ways. The trans-context here is clear. The Royal Air Force are presenting their TV message during a terrorist movie. But the more interesting aspect is this delve into Arabsville. The Royal Air Force are in Lebanon, sure there’s no situation there that needs military help as such but its close enough to be the ‘same thing’. On this night, the night of the attacks on Hama in Syria, this TV programming is telling us plenty. It was like watching a TV/movie remix except it was 'just regular' programming.
Still from short film “Slow Death” directed by Jamal Salim.
INIVA at Rivington Place hosted a series of illuminating Emirati films last week:
Last Thursday night saw the Shubbak festival of Arab culture host a series of Emirati films at INIVA at Rivington Place. As it was presented by Kay Dickinson (writer and lecturer at Goldsmiths on Arab popular culture,) the UAE, and the entire Gulf, are quite new to the arena of national cinemas. But since 2004, with the launch of the Gulf Film Festival, an off-shoot of the Dubai International Film Festival, the support and encouragement has been strong and steady.