Posted by: professorepler | September 9, 2011

This is BOLD and underlined

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=28834156&server=vimeo.com&show_title=0&show_byline=0&show_portrait=0&color=00adef&fullscreen=1&autoplay=0&loop=0

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Posted by: professorepler | December 5, 2010

CLASS DISCUSSION – transcripts

We owe Sana’a a huge thank you for these. Click link below to download the .docx file.

mideasternclass2

Posted by: professorepler | October 6, 2010

AMER NADERI info

Naderi + Dinero

1st, READ excerpt from article appearing “The Cinema of North African and the Middle East,” ed. by Gonul Donmez-Colin.
Text below is taken entirely from article by Bahmn Maghsoudlou, appearing here: http://ifvc.com/amir-naderi-ibs.htm

When he was five-years-old, Naderi was orphaned by the death of his mother. He has very few memories of his mother and does not remember his father at all. Left a young street urchin struggling to survive in an impoverished society, Naderi began to tap his well of creativity by finding a variety of ways to support himself: he sold ice water to passersby, was a shoeshine boy and even gathered and sold empty beer bottles from the refuse dumped into the sea by passing ships.
In his early teens, Naderi left Abadan and traveled to the Iranian capital city of Tehran where he managed to obtain work as a still photographer on movie sets – a job that he performed into his early twenties. He loved the cinema and quickly understood that it was where he belonged.
he Runner was the first post-revolutionary film to come out of Iran and was a true turning point for Iranian Cinema after the Revolution. It was shown on the last day of the Venice Film Festival, where it received both critical and popular acclaim. It later shared the Grand Prix of the Tri-Continents Film Festival at Nantes and has been selected for such prestigious festivals as those in London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, San Francisco and Sydney. Its success at festivals prompted its commercial release in England, France, Germany, Japan and the United States.

Although several of Naderi’s films have been banned by the Iranian government, Naderi is not a political filmmaker. Any political statement is derived from his strong conscience, which does not allow him to compromise what he knows to be the truth of life in his native land. Hence, through his unique visionary style, he conveys his personal attitude toward injustice, misery and suppression – not just that of the society in which he grew up and from which he escaped, but of all humankind who live in such degrading circumstances.

After viewing a Naderi film, it is impossible to believe that the film was made by a man who never got beyond the Fifth Grade. Naderi had to leave school at the age of twelve to go out onto the streets to support himself from day to day. As he sat shining other peoples’ shoes, he had a lot of time to think about his life. He came to the realization – one far wiser than his years – that without knowledge and learning, he would always be tied to the ground and never be able to soar. So Amir Naderi began educating himself. He read every important novel he could find, short stories, anything that would add to his knowledge and understanding – he even translated from the Persian. He found a home in literature and through a love of art, taught himself about paintings. It was Naderi’s personal understanding of the power of learning, of literacy that found expression in some of the most powerfully emotional scenes in The Runner, as Amiro comes to the realization that the strongest weapon he can have against the treadmill of poverty is literacy and education.

Naderi’s films are almost plotless, like Michelangelo Antonioni’s. He works with a minimum of events and characters in relation to an environment that shapes the narrative. His narratives are lean, direct, emotional, but not manipulative. Unlike Antonioni, who focuses on middle-class women, the central figure in Naderi’s films is a poverty-stricken young man, or a boy on the verge of manhood struggling with survival in a ruthless, brutal world of economic and emotional deprivation.
Naderi’s cinema is honest like John Ford’s, poetic like Robert Flaherty’s, masculine like Howard Hawks’, mysterious as Alfred Hitchcock’s, powerful as Orson Welles’, humanistic like Jean Renoir’s, bitter and realistic like Vittorio De Sica’s and sometimes as dark and surrealistic as Luis Buñuel’s.
Left for NYC in let 80s and became instructor at Columbia University, University of Las Vegas, and NYU’s film school.

Posted by: professorepler | October 6, 2010

IRANIAN CINEMA HISTORY LESSON (brief)

Notes on Iranian Cinema History – taken from Hamid Nacify’s introduction to Iranian Cinema in “Routledge Companion Encyclopedia of Middle Eastern and North African Film,” ed. by Oliver Leaman.

Pahlavi Era 1926-1978
Shah and the IDO (Intellectual Development Organization)
-a part of the overall consolidation strategy
-1938 until Reza Shah’s abdication in 1941
-primary function was to inoculate the Shah’s ideology which included Iranian nationals (located in pre-Islamic times), devotion to the country and to the Shah, and Westernization, including unveiling of women.
-to accomplish this, they set up branches in charge of organizing conferences, developing radio programming and audiences, preparing school and general interest textbooks, teaching drama and performing plays, organizing orchestras and musical performances, improving the production and editing of a pro-government press. This budget was supported by  2% tax on movie ticket sales.
-the IDO also helped integrate film with other arts by including films in their lectures and performances in order to attract non-coerced audiences. The IDO created a network of relations among academics, writers, musicians, dramatists, filmmakers and radio producers, all of which viewed filmmaking and cinema favorably.

World War 2 stops film production, but foreign films continue to be imported. 60% USA, 20% German, France and Russia 5% each. All were heavily censored by the government.

Esmail Kushan, working in Turkey, helped dub several foreign films into Persian. The successful distribution of these films encouraged him to make the first sound feature inside Iran. He established Mitra Film Co. in 1948 produced 4 films in 3 years. His first film was not well received or made, but his second film in 1949 (Zendani-e Amir) or “Prisoner of the Emir” was well received. The US Dept of Commerce stated that ‘considerable improvement…has been made in sound, lighting, photography and direction, and the story and acting are superior.’ (a bit strange that the US Government was reporting on the status of Iranian film production)

Kushan then established a larger film company, Parsfilm Studio which continued to make films specifically for the local market, and which survived the revolution of 1978-9.

His successes caused swift change in film industry. Many companies were formed and numerous films produced. Most of them were structured on the model of silent-film genres – melodramas, situation comedies, adventure films. Most of them low-quality, formulaic and escapist. This can be explained by strict censorship, competition for foreign imports and the prevailing social and economic conditions.

Emergence of new fiction cinemas: 1960-78
Oil money was pouring in and the government was on rocky ground after violently crushing a public protest spearheaded by Ayatollah Khomeini (who was exiled).
The Iranian government’s need for political control of culture and art matched the interests of the US media companies for economic control of the world markets. American business interests thus overshadowed the regional media influences (India, Turkey and Egypt) which had previously been influential in Iranian cinema. With US oil money came American products and services: feature films, TV programs, television sets, studios, communications expertise and training. They sold not only consumer products but also a consumer ideology.

Two movements helped jolt the film industry:
1.) The tough guy genre,  Luti films
first one: Lat-e Javanmard or The Generous Tough, 1958 by Majid Mohseni.
2.) The New Wave film movement
-social realist

-filmmakers Gaffary and Golestan: Jonub-e Shahr or South of the City, 1958
-honest treatment and truthful portrayal of village life, using a sparse and somewhat primitive style. It had clear links to the Italian neo-realist cinema.
-in 1973, several filmmakers dropped out of the mandatory membership of the National Union of Film Workers to establish the Progressive Filmmakers’ Union.
-Their goal was to create a film industry ‘worthy of our culture and nationality, since all that the current films possessed of the rich Iranian culture was their Perian-language dialogue.’ They aimed to go around the distribution monopoly of the government and to satisfy the needs of consumers nationwide and their own desire to make films that ‘while representing our culture, national characteristics and artistic growth, could also ear the country some foreign exchange.’
-In this way, the desire to produce an independent cinema was also a desire to communicate with the outside world. Artistic films that went to festivals were a way to say ‘we are here, and we don’t all agree,’ and also to encourage a dialogue.
-But by mid-1970’s, the industry collapses. Imports were cheaper than national productions. Film box offices were taxed at nearly 25%. Inflation made equipment and services too expensive, while the government enforced low ticket prices.

Islamic Republic Era 1979-99
The Islamic Revolution was particularly favorable to cinema as a target for its anger. This was expressed most savagely in August of 1978 whn they set fire to Abadan’s Rex Theatre, which killed nearly 400 people. After this, burning cinemas became an integral part of dismantling the Shah’s regime. They claimed not to be against cinema, but against the ‘misuse’ of cinema by the Pahlavi regime to morally corrupt and politically subjugate the Iranians. While burning down the exhibition sites, they adopted cinema as an ideological tool with the goal of using it to transform Pahlavi culture into an Islamic culture, and a specifically Iranian culture “Neither East nor West.”
-20 years later, the Toronto Film Festival and New York Film Festival called the Iranian cinema of the 1990s one of the ‘preimenant national cinemas’ and ‘one of the most exciting’ cinema of the world.
-How did this happen?
– The state encouraged local production, although it was highly regulated and controlled. IN 1983, the Farabi Cinema Foundation is created by the state to facilitate national filmmaking and distribution efforts., which they did with great success.
-The government provided help: facilitating bank loans, rationalizing cumbersome rules and regulation, expediting the production and exhibition of films.
-Tax for local films went from 20 to 5%.
-Tax for imported films went from 20 to 25%
-Ticket prices increased 25%
-FCF payed no customs duties on imports
-Producers and exhibitors were given representation on the ‘screen committee’ that regulated distribution and exhibition.
-mid 1990s, the Rafsanjani administration privatized major industries, including cinema.
-a grading system which was for quality and censorship, nonetheless encouraged the production of artistic films, which would then get the best exhibition sites. For this reason, a very rare thing happened where the best films were also the most popular.

Auteur cinema flourished, and the income created by foreign film markets was no small change, due to the exchange rate. Selling a film to foreign TV or theaters helped boost the film industry financially and encouraged similar productions. The films did very well abroad, e.g. The Children of Heaven did $1million in one month in Hong Kong alone.
-ironically, if the film was banned in Iran, then the profits went directly to the filmmaker, as he as financially responsible. This lead to them being able to be self-sufficient and bolder in their works, but also led to the label of elitists, unpatriotic, even un-Islamic within Iran. For these reasons, many of them left to pursue filmmaking in other countries, which were ready to finance them (Amir Naderi leaves to NYC).

Posted by: professorepler | October 6, 2010

CLASS 1 TRANSCRIPT – part 2

[after screening of CAMERA ARABE] – Note: please read PART I (below) before reading this post.

>>>>>

Epler:  okay, so this is made 23 years ago.

Tamador: it’s the same

Epler: that’s what they said last year, it was the most depressing movie they ever saw.

Rawan: it is, yes.

Epler: but isn’t it weird? That’s some of the same things we said not one hour ago are the same they talked about in 1987 or previous to that some interviews are older.

Sana’a:  I am so angry!

Epler: at who though? At you?Your audience?The  world?

Sana’a: no, at us, not the audience and not the friggin’ governments, at the people, the artists,  it’s the same problems they had friggin’ 50 years ago, and its still the same, we get better ideas and get more creative, we whine and nag a lot, the government will not let me do that, but I mean, seriously, it’s the exact same problem. I can’t, no, I just can’t.

Epler: the word I heard the most in there was defeat, theArabis a defeated person, we are all defeated, our generation is defined by defeat. All we have known is defeat, Over and over again. And you want to just smack them in the face and say, no one is telling you you’re defeated, just go out and make some films and do your best, and say that’s the best you can do, or whatever.

Sana’a:      and even if you are defeated, do not just sit there and nag about it.

Epler: they made plenty of films,

Sana’a: yes, true.

Epler: these are the legendary film makers that gave rise to the award winning  independent features that no one sees, and they know it, but they also say what else am I supposed to do?  Shehabi.

Shehabi: it’s so depressing and it’s still the same, but they think they are defeated because at that time, their mental state was the whole idea of an Arab nation, like they were more defeated than at least our generation. Which does not affect the reality if we’re defeated or not but it affects the knowledge or thinking about it. But even now, you see additions you see more channels and internet and posters and its still the same. It makes me more angry because you don’t know where the. When you look at it people want to see and they need to see. Many things happened in the last 10 years, and I know it needs time.

Epler: that is a good point, what is different? Now?

Bachar: I need a long time, can I have this time?

Epler: oh, you’re warning me? I will give you 2 minutes, but I am timing you, go ahead.

Bachar:  about now, people and filmmakers stopped thinking of these issues like 67 and the Arab war. but this film we watched is an example of the problem, because they do not talk about cinema, they want to talk about the history and someone wants to face a memoryand someone maybe… psychologist, I did not hear any word about mise-en-scene or about story or about film or problems in financing movies. I think it was a problem of Arabian people, each one even if he was filmmaker or painter or singer they have to talk about every problem in society without knowing what he is talking about exactly. This film started with 67 and Nasser and that period and talked about facing the capitalists or like that. These issues ended years before and now we are in another problem.

Epler: great, that is my question, someone tell me what is different?

Bachar: what is different is the interest in the issues and now they want to …

Epler: the difference is that filmmakers are not interested in these social and political issues, they are just interested in making movies.  That is interesting. Let me get somebody who has not spoken yet.  Did you have your hand up tamador?

Tamador: yes but I wanted to say the same

AmerDwaik: I think those film makers were lucky. They had a reason not to succeed, they can always say that we defeated we faced these defeats. These defeats are.. Whoever.. None of us lived these defeats, yes were raised with it, but we did not really live it the way they did, but we don’t have the same we cannot get away with it.

Epler: excuses?

AmerDwaik: yes, I think recently, not only in Jordan, most of the younger generations who are trying to make films, they are aware this is not an issue, this is not an excuse not to succeed, so yes we are better. They were lucky but we are in a better situation.

Epler: do you feel defeated by anything? At all?

AmerDwaik:  no not at all.

Epler: I see many heads agree with that. Is that true around the room? Do you have no reason to feel defeated? In the sense that they felt defeated. I will take that for general agreement.

Sana’a:  no, actually, I do not agree with Amer.

Epler: you don’t?

Sana’a: maybe for the same reasons, maybe its milder now, and I am sure whenever some one goes home  and opens a book of history, and looks back at what happened, I think its innate, or born with us, same with you having to hate someone who attacked your country, I think it is passed down through blood,  this defeat, because it was so major, but  regardless if it still holds now or not, I think the most important thing that has changed, I think the excuses are still there, maybe they are different, the defeat is definitely still there, maybe its under another name, I think the medium now, we have the technology on our side, it does not have to cost you thousands and thousands of dollars to make a film and you do not have to go get clearances from each person in the government to shoot , you do not have to wait for distributers,

Epler: True

Sana’a:  if you want to make a film and get it out there, now, you can, maybe then they could not , but now, I can see no reason why that does not happen.

Epler: okay

Tamador: to feel defeated is very bad, but I think in that period it is good that you feel defeated  but to work against it, to do something, make films, but now not to feel defeated is also bad, because we are also in a very bad situation in this region, we are not strong. For me, I feel defeated many times but I think we have to work, I feel the young generation they don’t feel anything about the world around them, they don’t feel anything, and that is strange.

Epler: you said that we are in a bad place, what does that mean? What is bad?

Tamador: I mean , for me as a Palestinian, we are the only place in the world that is occupied.

Epler: so when you say we, you mean Palestinians?

Tamador: and also I feel that we are, yes, yes.

Epler: no one is going to argue with that, you are in a bad place.

Azza: are we still answering about the difference? Can I add something else?

Epler: sure.

Azza:  okay, let us break it down easily, money, we can get, distribution we can have, people have gotten to Cannes from the Arab world, from Jordan to Sundance, that is easy, not difficult, 2 elements we can have, money and distribution, the problem is the story, and one other thing, we are well educated, we are lucky we are living in this state, it creates background, culture, history that people do not have, like for example Americans do not have, that rich history like we do.

Epler: True

Azza: so, adding to that we are lost in stories, that is one big thing I believe, even in very tight societies  , like the short film industry in Jordan, we end up doing stories that really do not concern us, sometimes, okay, so we get lost within the story.  So, I think our main problem is the story rather than the censorship, or governments or whatever, etc… because , you know, if  you want to do something you want to do it , you know, and I do not see why censorship sometimes would cause you a problem. If you are talking about red lines and crossing those red lines, then you are talking out of (inaudible). But speaking now is that we have a problem of story, a problem of understanding ourselves, of trying to identify ourselves after , like at this point.

Epler: I just want to clarify because I am a little unclear, when you say our problem is story and then you say that we need to identify ourselves is that the same thing?

Azza: yes, in a sense.

Epler: that you are not writing stories that probably define who you are?

Azza: not literally defining, I mean, we need to understand where we are, who we are, and what exactly makes us ourselves, therefore, getting a story out there. Putting our identity out there and publishing it.

Epler: your identities, maybe, plural. Hiba  did you have your hand up? I will come back to you guys in a bit.

Hiba: for me, I am no expert, but for me, I think how it was before, is because at this very moment a war has happened, everyone is really tensed up and  have something to say to the rest of the world, so at that time it was defeat, but now, we are not living the same defeat that was before, now, it is more of coexistence, we are trying to accept what happening out there, but me being Jordanian and living here, every time a bombing happens in Palestine or Lebanon, or any part of this region I would hear  a song, I would see a documentary talking about it, but in 2 weeks 3 weeks it would vanish and we would go back to coexistence, so it is not as strong as it was before. Do you get what I mean with coexistence? Like we try to accept that this is here because a long time has passed since it happened, and we do feel defeated but at the same time we try to accept that, it is what it is,

Epler: it is what it is

Hiba: we cannot do anything about it, so let’s just make a documentary or a short film, and that’s about it, let us just move on. So, that is how I see it..

Epler: okay.

Rawan: I want to comment on Azza, that the problem with the story, like you are talking money you can get, funds you can get. If you are thinking about festivals, money, they have specific stories that they are interested in, so let us say if you want to make a feature, and gets funds for it, you have to talk about something that is of interest to the west which is not out of interest to the east. Vice versa, if you want to make a film that is for the eastern audience, you need it to be of their interest which is totally different from the interest of the west. Which is also totally different from what we as independent filmmakers want to do. So you have this problem and that is why it is not working out, you know? So if I want to get funds and my target is the film festivals let’s say, it has to be something with politics, something with women issues, or something with children rights, or about the poverty in the region,

Epler: or Israel.

Rawan: yes, or Israel. Politics let’s say, that’s under politics.

Epler: oh, sorry.

Rawan: so that they would actually look at it, or it would be of interest to them, so if I want to get funding for something here in the middle east, it has to be for something that the audience wants to watch, so it’s going to go to the commercial side of what Egypt Is doing. And here lies the problem. You see?

Epler: so you see compromise on both sides?

Rawan: yes, on both sides we are compromising, yes.

Epler: okay, that sucks. But you are right, at a certain level, I think you are right. I can not think of anything that contradicts that truly. Although, Caramel seemed to cross into both but it did not do too well here.

Rawan & Tamador: no it did not. No.

Epler: no it did not. Who else?

Tamador: to compare between the two generations, they were defeated, and maybe what Azza said about looking for our identity or we not having identity, I agree with her because, for our generation, to not be defeated we are escaping from our identity,.

Epler: okay. Bachar?

Bachar: I would like to refer to something for .. (inaudible) the question of how much art fits our society, or real societies in the western world, or even the Arab world,  we have to notice that cinematic art, we have to go with, only in cities or countries under the British or French (inaudible) it’s like Egypt like Indian like Australia and Singapore and Hong Kong, it drives us to know this art is for western world, like the… like everything in modern period, when we know this art and try to deal with this art,  we had a big problem, like does it fit our eastern life, religion, our something like that. And it started for example, in Egypt in the same way as in Britain, because Egypt was under the British occupation. So to know the problems of cinema in the Arabic world, we have to look at Egyptian cinema it was something funny and exciting happened in the high class fortunate ones until 52 where Abdel Nasser… after that he used the cinematic art to develop or support his opinion about revolution, after him, Sadat also used cinematic art to mention mistakes of Sadat and now to be funny and to

Epler: I hear what you are saying, it’s fascinating  look cinema is an invention that came out of a whole bunch of circumstances that lead to the industrial revolution in the west, and that is why it made sense to the west, but maybe we are looking at a historical problem that goes further back than the politics of the region , which is: is cinema really a medium that does well in the middle east  at all?

Bachar: but sorry. I am going to say I think it is a kind of people in our society interested in cinema , it is people who studied in western society or in high class, it is not popular art.

Epler: its not an art, ah, or at least, an art that is appreciated.

Bachar: or I mean for example not like sculpture or painting, it is something that takes place between very small class of people, who had studied in Europe or America or very fortunate.

Epler: would you say that is who you are? You said people who watch films are people who were educated abroad and have a lot of money.

Bachar: not people who watch, people who make ..

Epler: I am asking you, is that you?

Bachar: no

Epler: so there are exceptions.

Bachar: not me I am talking about the start of cinema

Epler: but it could also happen to us. I have to cut you off and let other people. Sana’a?

Sana’a: I just wanted to be clear if he was talking about now or in the past?

Epler: yeah, you’re talking about the past, that it was born out of privilege and western influence?

Bachar: yes

Epler: okay

Amer Dwaik: I wanted to say something but then no.

Epler: if you want to finish we will wrap up now the class.

Bachar: I am finished

Epler: because I always feel I am cutting you off and you will go home and …

Bachar: my point is that the problem of cinema is the same problem of press and problem of any western art or science that comes to our area and we still don’t know how to deal with it. We still have the same problem in press, in process and all of this we can call it modern problems.

Epler: I will let you go,

Amer Dwaik: since Tamador mentioned it I will mention it, the defeat, I think that the story is based on language, and the quality of a story can only be as good as our thoughts, so having defeat as a part of our thoughts as something we accept will affect our stories and our thoughts, so eventually this will make the middle eastern films that will come later on into  genre that has depression as a ..and I don’t think this will do the middle eastern cinema any good, I might be very much mistaken but , this is how I see it.

Epler: you’re killing me Shehabi. Go on.

Shehabi: I just want to add to what Bachar said, talking about.. since before even since 18th and 19th century, the chain of art Arab art is still the same. Language, poetry and such things but in visual to clarify from beginning maybe before it was powerful chance, theres a gap from the pharaohs, there’s another thing that popped into my head, all of this way of thinking is growing.. even now the new generation the kids are there is no mention of history especially Arab history.

Epler: so maybe now, even what Tamador was saying is some cultural naiveté, not knowing what happened might actually be an advantage?

Shehabi: I  do not kno if it is an advantage, but it’s a fact that is changing, fading

Epler: oh it is fading?

Shehabi: …

Epler: Yusef Chahine  says  that memory is confrontation, and in order to confront others you need to confront yourself, if you are going to confront memory, you can choose what to keep and what to not keep, what to use and what to throw away, say, this memory is not helping me, it is like therapy, I am going to throw it out , I am going to stop obsessing with this one and obsess with this one because this is a positive memory and I can use it, it is about what you want to use. So wrapping up, one of my favorite parts in the film is the meeting in Carthage, the first Carthage film festival, where they all, all the film makers, organize the festival and come together and talk amongst themselves about what they are going to do, and that is when Yousef Chahine is like I am through being polite, now I am going to just cause trouble, right? Which I thought was really interesting, at that point I think what they are discussing and perhaps what we should be thinking about for next week, is, what is your definition of success, individually, as a group, and as a region, what is the definition of success? For all of these; production, distribution, finance, artistic, form, content, story, audience, what is the definition of success, think about that. I will put up notes on the blog every week ,I will send you all a link to the blog, I highly encourage you to maintain the discussion online through the week as you have any conversations or thoughts of your own,  this is a very unique time where you guys can actually talk about this together in one room and not just 2 or 3 people together on a couch at 3 in the morning, so let us try to record as much of it as we can, so that you can use it later on to start more conversations in other places. Thank you have a good day.

Posted by: professorepler | October 6, 2010

CLASS 1 TRANSCRIPT – part 1 of 2

It’s a long time coming…but here is the transcript of our first class discussion. I think it’s a good time to review your thoughts and keep them in mind as we push forward. MANY MANY thanks to Sana’a for doing this.

>>>>>>

[How would you describe MENA cinema today?]

Rawan – there are independent films and commercial ones. Independent films are made for Western festivals. The best case scenario is they win a prize, but when they come home no one sees the film. Hopefully they continue to get funding from the West so they can create jobs. The other is for every-day consumption and is almost entirely Egyptian.

Fractured into two worlds.

Tamador: It’s like petroleum for Egypt. The cinema is made for the Egyptian audience. They know what the audience wants and they give it to them. It’s a good industry for everyone.

Bachar (inaudible): These films are made to please everyone, from the child to the grandmother. But this also means that they’re made to not offend anyone. There are limitations to the subjects and actions that can be explored on the screen.

Shehabi: the stories are like the ones on TV, slapstick comedy and over-dramatic drama.

Epler: We have an exhibition problem linked to an audience habit problem, solved by a production chain that doesn’t have to change because everything’s linked together and the audience doesn’t demand anything different. The exhibition is not in the theatre because people don’t go – mostly cultural, but also not a viable business anymore – life happens at home, so if movies get a theatrical run, it’s symbolic and they go straight to television and pirated DVDs on the street. Meanwhile, the independent cinema goes out of the country never comes back and no one sees it, mostly due to the fact that the issues are too progressive and too alienating to the domestic audience or the form, content or story isn’t something the average person isn’t interested in watching. 99% of people watching the same stuff for decades, and not likely to change. Meanwhile, a small portion (growing but small) are watching or at least searching out alternative media. habits unknown but we can say they have internet access.

Nart: politics and religion have a lot to do with it. An egyptian movie nowadays is different than 10 years ago. You can’t have a real kiss anymore, for example. This problem is exacerbated by the vastness of the region. If one country has a stricter interpretation of what’s acceptable and what’s not, then the distributor has to insure the film will not offend the most strict of the entire region….

Bachar: (advertising) – .. when people get funds for their films from advertising companies, so they have to take into consideration what these advertising companies want to watch, especially in … this company which funds these movies, they specify a concept, they are supposed to say certain things.

Epler: so you might say that if you want to reach a lot of people, you have to be willing to work with the demands of, either or in addition, advertisers, government and religious interests. If you want to say whatever you want you have to accept the fact that you have a very small audience, so far, that’s where we at now.

Tamador: I disagree with you that people in this region don’t go to cinema theatre because in Egypt they usually go every week to cinema.

Epler: is that still true today?

Tamador: yes, or maybe people who do not like films go like every month, but they still go. In my opinion it is because the cinema industry gives them what they want to watch so they go but the independent cinema in the region does not give the audience what they want so they don’t go.

Epler: great.

Azza: so the core problem, summing everything up, the core problem is the actual awareness and the political versus the social awareness of people right now. In the 1960s films were different, people were completely different. I was telling Hiba the other day that in the 1960s women used to wear mini skirts in Egypt and it was fine. Now theyre dressed up..

Epler: same in Beirut, in Amman

Azza: yes, same in everywhere, its just different, religiously ,socially, politically, and the awareness, the state of awareness is becoming lower and lower therefore the artistic versus, the social comes in to the cinema, the demand became less and less so people look forward for Hollywood, for those films that have a different approach than just talking about Palestine or the other problems we have here, therefore they shelter to other alternative cinemas or the actual cinema which is Hollywood, so what I’m summing up is the awareness of the people.

Epler: right, if film is a cultural object, something that is meant to reflect a culture and a time you’re saying that its reflecting exactly what it is, a lot of noise and a lot of nothing because people are not as sophisticated culturally or open minded as they used to be. Or not sophisticated let’s say broader in what they will accept.

Amer Dwaik: I have to respectfully disagree; I don’t think it’s the awareness that is affecting the Middle Eastern cinema, I think it is the control, the more control the more supervision the governments put on these films, I believe the whole globalization did not help us as much as it damaged our industries including cinema, so the alternative came cheaply for people and we could not compete with other cinemas and that is what causes us to watch more western cinema than Arabic cinema, I think actually that culture awareness is much higher now than it was in the 60’s.

Epler: because they access, to a broader media type.

Azza: exposed.

Epler: im going to give you a chance to respond, but what he’s bringing up is interesting, and its going to come up in the documentary later on, and a lot of it comes from a historical economic problem,  it was cheaper to import media than it was to produce it, because the infrastructure was not available. And Cairo was the only one who had the infrastructure and that is why it survived, not because they made particularly amazing business decisions but they were the only ones who had the equipment and could pay for it. TV gets invented there’s no stations that can really do anything so when the televisions are on and you need to fill them with something it’s easier to buy programs than it is to produce them. Azza do you want to respond?

Azza: should I respond now?

Epler: um, let’s go around. Let’s hear from Sana’a, I haven’t heard from her yet.

Sana’a: I kind of agree with Amer, yes things have changed a lot but I think people now, its not about what they are ready to see, its more about what you are willing to give them, because I think artists in the past were more responsible, with their art they made documentaries and showed them to people, they went around, even if you didn’t have money, they showed them … but I think especially now, independent cinema, at least in Beirut, it is funded by the west and its made for the west and the artist just comes back with an award, and practically no one really sees the film even though it’s made about let’s say, Lebanese people, so I think the artists themselves have completely kind of shed their relations to their country or the middle east and they just look out to the west, even that I don’t think is local. I mean we had produce in the past Egyptians and Lebanese, it was all there then it stopped for a while so something automatically something has to fill the gap, which is why Hollywood has moved to the forefront, but I think if they just have like a community thing, like a COOP, if they just screen films, people will get back on this again, they want to see their fellow Arabs make these films, but I think the artists themselves have a huge responsibility that they’re not really (?), it’s not just about people, people are ready to see whatever you show them, maybe not in a very strict government thing, but I think if the artists they need to step up and make their work more readily available. Like half the things on this list, I’m sure more than half, I haven’t seen, even though you know we’ve seen many foreign films, but these, really are not available to us.

Epler: so you’d like to see the cinema and the people sort of come together as a community that has a dialogue right?

Sana’a: yes, like let’s say you make a film about Shehabi, Shehabi needs to see the film, or just make it available for the people here and not just the west, because we usually hear about Arab films from the West, that’s where we buy them from, yes distribution.

Epler: that’s where I have to buy them from. Our library is literally stocked with films through western distributers, coz I cant buy them with subtitles coz no one will pay for them and not a lot of people are watching them.

Shehabi:  …. Inaudible… there is a part … which made us even fertile…which made it more… and as well..because… it made them not trust..

Azza: so bottom line from my point is people stopped talking about themselves because they’re tired, cinema I mean, mostly because no one hears, they’re not ready to hear themselves, and therefore they shelter to western cinema, they take it as an entertainment cinema rather than as awareness, political or regional or having a social impact on them, they refuse that because they want entertainment, purely, one point I would have to disagree respectfully with Amer is , now we are capable of doing whatever identifies us, but somehow we don’t. highlighting that Egyptian cinema, they have the funds they have the money and equipment, all resources we need but they end up making these comedies that do not reflect this region or at least Egypt, we can do it but we choose not to because it’s easier for us, and its lighter on us, that does again happen because we lack the awareness of all the elements.

Epler: who is we? Young film makers?

Azza: I would say the audience, the people who are willing to see the films.

Epler: so you are calling them lazy?

Azza: no im not calling them lazy, I’m calling them, they’re trying to have a breath. They’re just resting a a bit from the whole,it all reflects to the whole.

Epler: tired of fighting…

Azza: yes, the whole 8000 years of trying to prove a point and now theyre tired of proving a point, that my point.

Epler: yes

Sana’a:  I will have to respectfully disagree with Shehabi and Azza. Shehabi because you said Arabs I the region don’t have a visual history, no not that history, as far as I know,  What was it in the 30’s Egypt was on par with America, so I think we are pioneers. With Azza, when you say they do not reflect the Egyptian reality, im sure they do in a way because they are still successful, maybe they do not show the actual misery and actual truth of what’s going on, but then you have the legal issues with the government, and also as you said, why settle for the west for entertainment and not to your actual local industry, and they make it work, and its one of the things that bring them the most money, as an industry. And also I do not think that people don’t want to talk and no one wants to listen, if you ask someone a question, they go on and on and on about it. I think its just up to us to kind of, you first have to cater to what people need to bring the masses back in to win them, and then maybe you can start making your own little thing on the side. But you need to know because if you want to bring the masses in, they are a mass and they won’t come into something that’s a bit alternative, so I think it’s a very clever thing that they’re doing, some films are surfacing, funded by Egyptians , showing them in Egypt, and Egyptians working on them and they’re being successful. Because I think Arabs are more open to Egyptian cinema, its been there all this time.

Epler: right, I think its interesting that you are raising an issue of scale, and the scale is not only an effect, its also a matter of intention, how many people do you want to affect? And what kind of relationship do you want to have with them. This comes down to information and relationships, right? On a certain level, we have a large amount of mass information coming at us that reaches people around the world, technologies like Facebook, whatever, all these things come to us at basically the same time they do in Spain. But, the relationship between us and that media is I’m here, its up there, it flows over like the weather and we pick up what we want. Then there’s the stuff that’s on the ground, stuff that is nowhere near Spain, and vice versa, stuff that is shared from one person to the other; I like this music, check it out. Maybe other people in Spain know about that music but you didn’t find out about it because it was up here in that stream of information, you found out about it through a relationship, see what I mean?  So there is information with no relationship and there is information with relationship to other people. So what you’re saying is do you want to put up your work in that stream and have it go out for you with no relationship to where is goes or do you want to have a relationship with the people who are going to watch your movie?

Sana’a: can i? no because I think that as a film maker, if I make a film if Hiba makes a film , im sure you want the largest number of people to see it. You know, if you have a message to get across. So I think the more widely available it is the more you actually get your point across instead of nowadays I think filmmakers here are making their films for a select few, let’s say for the elite, for those who do not really get in trouble with the law or for the west. So I think that the basic drive for making a film has severely changed from back then, and it’s not about the audience its about the artists themselves. Im sure it’s a bit about both. Even though now you have the technology you need to spread your own films.

Epler: let’s say you can change that. Let’s say, overnight, artists are doing what you want them to do, how do the broadcasters and the distributers react? If the audience does not know what is happening but the production is different, how does the middle man decide what to do?

Sana’a: again, if im talking about independent cinema, these artists are not making a lot of money, compared to large budget you know, action films or whatever, so I think, let’s cancel the middle man all together or just have him play a smaller role and use this stream of information going across. Instead of waiting for a distributer to come and pick up your film and then get the money, im sure there are other ways. Like the internet. These are things you can use. Why wait for the middle man and deny so many people of actually watching your film.

Epler: this is getting interesting.

Because you have also said that people are interested in having discussions or approaching subjects that are not approached otherwise. And if the artist would just turn away from the west and to the east and cut out large amounts of money, and some royalties, then the dialogue between artist and audience can happen a lot easier?

Sana’a: yes, it would be a lot easier

Epler: hmm..this is interesting.

Tamador: I think there is a problem in distribution because if we want to make a good industry for example for filmmakers like us, we have to find distributers; they have to be strong, like when you open a new supermarket you need to wait until people know and like you and want to buy from you so we need more time to get audience to know us and like our cinema.

Epler: it is interesting that you call US the independent film makers, I think if this school was in Cairo, some of us would call themselves independent filmmakers and others would want to work in the studio because that is an option, but because that option does not exist here, everyone identifies themselves as independent filmmakers, which goes back to what Bachar was saying about content, this implied duty to do something original and unique and crazy because we are independent, whereas you might also start thinking of yourself as the historical beginnings of an alternate studio system to Cairo where you are making movies for a large amount of people that are easily digestible but different, maybe more sophisticated in form or style, give steady jobs that give out a reasonable profit. If you are in the beginning everything is possible, we’ll see where it goes. But in the last 10 years, the amount of equipment and trained individuals has increased exponentially in this country alone. And with new ways of distribution you could have another studio situation on a smaller scale. Again with scale its different, because again, you would be bypassing advertising money, and that is a lot of money.

Tamador: I want to say something that if you want to make a new cinema and new industry you have to be patient. For example in Egypt, when they showed Caramel, it was written in a schedule that it will show for 2 weeks, but I went to the cinema after 3 days maybe and I did not find it, because no one went to see it,

Epler: or, they were too scared that the numbers were low and they didn’t give it time to generate interest

Tamador: yes, so the distributers for this kind of cinema have to be patient and work for like 10 years then the audience will come and see these films.

Epler: that is what im saying, that they will not , they will not be so patient, because its all about profit and theyre a business they have to run it that way. But if people took the time to get to know Caramel. If 5 people went watch Caramel, and then 5 people they tell another 5 that’s 25 people the next day, it grows and grows, through relationships. Information through relationships, more of a slow gain instead of instant profit margin. When they make an Egyptian film its a lot of money, so they expect a lot of money right back at them, they need it fast because they have another one scheduled for 2 months from now going into production, we can afford to be slower because we do not have immediate production demands and they’re not as expensive to make so we can be patient but the theatres cant. And im not sure they’ll change because there will be another production. Am I making sense?

YES

Bachar: inaudible… Arabic cinema…

Rawan – there are independent films and commercial ones. Independent films are made for Western festivals. The best case scenario is they win a prize, but when they come home no one sees the film. Hopefully they continue to get funding from the West so they can create jobs. The other is for every-day consumption and is almost entirely Egyptian.

Fractured into two worlds.

Tamador: It’s like petroleum for Egypt. The cinema is made for the Egyptian audience. They know what the audience wants and they give it to them. It’s a good industry for everyone.

Bachar (inaudible): These films are made to please everyone, from the child to the grandmother. But this also means that they’re made to not offend anyone. There are limitations to the subjects and actions that can be explored on the screen.

Shehabi: the stories are like the ones on TV, slapstick comedy and over-dramatic drama.

Epler: We have an exhibition problem linked to an audience habit problem, solved by a production chain that doesn’t have to change because everything’s linked together and the audience doesn’t demand anything different. The exhibition is not in the theatre because people don’t go – mostly cultural, but also not a viable business anymore – life happens at home, so if movies get a theatrical run, it’s symbolic and they go straight to television and pirated DVDs on the street. Meanwhile, the independent cinema goes out of the country never comes back and no one sees it, mostly due to the fact that the issues are too progressive and too alienating to the domestic audience or the form, content or story isn’t something the average person isn’t interested in watching. 99% of people watching the same stuff for decades, and not likely to change. Meanwhile, a small portion (growing but small) are watching or at least searching out alternative media. habits unknown but we can say they have internet access.

Nart: politics and religion have a lot to do with it. An egyptian movie nowadays is different than 10 years ago. You can’t have a real kiss anymore, for example. This problem is exacerbated by the vastness of the region. If one country has a stricter interpretation of what’s acceptable and what’s not, then the distributor has to insure the film will not offend the most strict of the entire region….

Bachar: (advertising) – left off here (10:30 or so)

Bachar: inaudible.. because cinema is a reflection of the society.

Epler: you are bringing up a good point, which is inevitably what you can and can not do is based on culture, and what culture will accept, at that point if you want to change the discussions that are available, you have to ask yourself, how will culture change? And there are two major ways, war and or government and or religion. We talk about superstructures yes? Religion is a superstructure, government is a super structure, war is affected by a super structure, right? Or, you have people that exchange information. Like hip hop, hip hop was created on the street it’s a western but the model is the same. People started taking old jazz songs and other things and messing with it, adding their own part to it and in a community of people in a public space, check out what im doing, then people start to dance different then the graffiti comes with it all these things join together it becomes a larger movement called hip hop and eventually it becomes mainstream commodified sold on larger medium basis. But the culture starts on a local arena between people with the community. If sanaa is talking about communities and scale another brought up relationships, what we’re starting to see if the big problems are too much for the artist to bear alone, then maybe our sense of scale is too big, we should bring down our sense of scale and think about you as a person in this community, not as a filmmaker who has something to say to the world, you know, who can do that?! I can’t stare at a blank page and say well, what am I going to say to the world and say what will the history of cinema say about me after I write this screenplay? I cant write a word no way. But what if I say im writing this for my mom, yes, I can write 5, easily, and they’re going to be more sincere. So this is in contrast to what im saying about the possibility of another studio but the creative process is the same. The intention starts on a blank page that should lead to the audience looking at blank screen just before the movie comes up

Rawan: I think there is a different way, if we stop thinking of it as independent filmmakers and controversy. You can actually make films that people want to see. But its along process but within that film you can add something small subliminal messages , something that will go straight to their subconscious, and the next time you can add a bit more to their acceptance. It’s a slow game but eventually it will get what you want. (inaudible)

Epler: you need people to help you out, I think there is a younger generation in the business world or in the entrepreneurial world who have access to large amounts of cash because they are young and they do not identify with the older generation , they want something new, and you just need a few to make one, its possible.

This conversation becomes the core of what we will discuss this semester. Some people last year said this was like therapy, it will feel like therapy and if it becomes boring and we are repeating the same things, tell me this is not working for me, I will ask you well, what do you want? Bring what you want to the circle, if you are angry at the state of things ,If you want to go make movies in a room in this time, let us know also let us know what you expect will come out of it.. so if you want to complain come up with a solution, that is my only rule.

Posted by: professorepler | October 3, 2010

WHITEBOARD RECORD

COMPLAINT: audience demand is limited and continues to be the excuse for producers of cinema making the same thing over and over.

WISH: audience would demand greater diversity of style, content, and kinds of cinema

IMPLICATION: this requires new distribution channels and a huge cultural shift in taste.

COMPLAINT: artists making films for foreign awards with foreign money, which does not support a self-sustaining industry nor address local issues in a way that is accessible to local audiences.

WISH: more collaboration and ingenuity at home to make it work

IMPLICATION: A new approach to funding and self-distribution and marketing

COMPLAINT: distributors not willing to take risks on new material (or anything that doesn’t resemble Egyptian films)

WISH: more risk

IMPLICATION: entrepreneurship, re-thinking the future of Arab media and its audiences, financial legislation that encourages funding for films, enforced quotas for the number of imported film in theaters and on television.

Posted by: professorepler | October 3, 2010

ARABIC LANGUAGE AS METAPHOR – Classic or 5lassic?

I can’t summarize the our conversation in a way that would give it justice, but I thought we should record at least the topic. We discussed whether or not Arab Cinema needed to return to a “more purely Arabic” nature, to its cultural roots untainted by Western culture. The initial thought was raised by a fact related to Egyptian history. In 1946, in an effort to “Egyptianize” the country in the wake of British rule, the Egyptian government instated a new law that required all business signs to be written in Arabic. The effect was significant and was a clear sign that Egyptian was determined to emphasize its cultural heritage as a signal that they were culturally independent, even after so many years of colonization.

Could cinema re-purify itself by returning to a more “essential Arab” center? What does that even mean? Is there “pure Arabic” culture?

As an example and a metaphor, we pointed out the use of the English keyboard to transliterate Arabic online, or Arabic with 5’s and 7’s. Is this an example of culture colonialism, or just the way Arab culture has evolved? Is it both? What does this mean for cinema.

Hmmmmm.

Posted by: professorepler | September 29, 2010

INTERVIEW W/ YOUSRY NASRALLAH

Yousry_Nasrallah Interview

Posted by: professorepler | September 23, 2010

‘ The Aquarium’ Yusri Nasrallah, 2008

حالة خاصة ومختلفة في سينما يسري نصر الله

هند صبري في «جنينة الأسماك»
أحمد السيد جودة
بالنظر إلى أفلام يسري نصر الله نجد أنها أفلام ذات طبيعة خاصة من أولها «سرقات صيفية»، التي تتسم بلغة سينمائية تأسست على المدرسة الشاهينية، مع رؤية يسري المتفردة إلى ذاته وإلى المواضيع التي يختارها في بقية أفلامه. طابع الذاتية ظل موجوداً لاحقاً في أفلامه «مرسيدس» و«المدينة»، ثم تخلى عنها واتجه إلى طابع ورؤية أكبر تجاه العالم في «صبيان وبنات» و«باب الشمس» بجزءيه. وخلال مسيرة أفلامه الستة أثبت مدى تميزه لاكتشاف ما يدور في محيط مصر والعالم. وربما يكون الفيلم الوحيد الذي أصابه بعض التشوش في أفكاره، نظراً لتعدد المستويات التي أراد الخوض فيها هو فيلم «مرسيدس»، غير ذلك فهو فعلاً أثبت أنه واحد من أفضل مخرجي السينما المصرية عبر تاريخها الطويل، لذلك فاستقبال فيلمه الجديد «جنينة الأسماك» في مهرجان برلين بكل هذا البرود والتجاهل أثار دهشة الكثيرين، خاصة أن فيلمه «باب الشمس» حقق نجاحاً عالمياً ليصل إلى اختياره كواحد من أفضل عشرة أفلام في العالم من قبل مجلة «التايم» الأميركية. إذن ما سر إخفاق فيلمه الجديد عالمياً، ثم في مصر خاصة مع السخط الذي لاقاه في عرضه الخاص؟في «جنينة الأسماك» يعود يسري مرة أخرى إلى إحدى الطبقات العليا في شريحة المجتمع المصري، طبقة قاطني حي الزمالك ليقع اختياره على اثنين منهم، الأول الدكتور يوسف «عمرو واكد» طبيب تخدير يعيش داخل سيارته رافضاً العيش داخل شقته المطلة على النيل ويعمل نهاراً في مستشفى، حيث يرعى والده الذي يحتضر في أيامه الأخيرة، بالإضافة إلى عمله في عيادة ليلية تختص بعمليات الإجهاض والترقيع، وهو على علاقة غير مستقرة بصديقته مروة «درة»، ويجد متعته الأساسية في الاستماع إلى المرضى أثناء هذيانهم بسبب المخدر. وهناك المذيعة ليلى «هند صبري»، التي يختص برنامجها «أسرار الليل» بالاستماع إلى مشاكل وأسرار المتصلين، في محاولة منها أن تساعدهم على تجاوز أزماتهم، وهي تعيش في منزل مع والدتها وأخيها وليست على ارتباط عاطفي واضح مع أحد، غير أن لها علاقة خاصة مع رجل كبير ذي نفوذ واسع. تتوازى هذه الأحداث مع أزمة إنفلونزا الطيور ومظاهرات حركة «كفاية» التي تعبر عن الأزمة السياسية والوضع المتردي بشكل عام في مصر.

أحد الأسباب التي أدت إلى إخفاق الفيلم في جذب الجمهور تبدأ بالطريقة التي اختارها المخرج للتعبير عما يرصده الفيلم، وهي حالة الخوف من كل شيء بدءاً من الطيور المسالمة وحتى الفوبيا العالمية من حرب نووية قادمة قد تبيد العالم عن بكرة أبيه. المشكلة تبدأ مع المدخل المباشر منذ لحظات الفيلم الأولى، عندما تستقبل ليلى اتصالاً من شخص ما يعبر عن خوفه من الطيور ومن الإخوان المسلمين، وحتى أميركا واسرائيل. هذه الطريقة المباشرة جداً هيأت لتتابع معين من الأحداث ذي نمط وطبيعة خاصة، ولكنها خالفت ذلك التوقع في الاتجاه إلى مظاهر الخوف التي بدأ بها الفيلم، إلى الغوص داخل تفاصيل حياة شخصيات العمل، خاصة أن حالة الرصد تلك لم تنتهج النقد بقدر ما انتهجت العرض السطحي لما يدور، خاصة في حالة الطيور ومظاهرات «كفاية»، لأن كل ذلك لم يكن له أي تأثير على حياة الأفراد، خاصة في المشهد الذي يمر فيه يوسف بالسيارة من أمام مظاهرة لحركة كفاية مقامة أسفل أحد الجسور، وحتى لو كان المراد بالفعل إظهار أن هؤلاء الأشخاص منشغلون عما يدور حولهم. لماذا وجه الفيلم النقد الوحيد إلى الإخوان المسلمين، حيث يظهر احد ممرات مبنى الإذاعة والتلفزيون ممتلئاً بالمصلين، وكأننا في ساحة مسجد، إضافة إلى الرقيبة التي تستأذنها ليلى في اذاعة حالة مريضة بالإيدز، وحتى صاحبة الشقة مارجريت التي عبرت عن خوفها من احد الإخوان، والتي تخشى من أنها قد تضطر معه للبس الحجاب.

على الرغم من أن فكرة الخوف رمزياً من خلال التلصص على الآخرين مع عدم قدرة الجميع على التواصل المباشر تمت معالجتها بشكل أفضل في السيناريو من خلال هواية يوسف في التنصت إلى مرضاه وامتدت إلى التلصص على الأحبة في جنينة الأسماك، وهواية صديقه في اشباع رغباته عن طريق الحديث إلى النساء عبر الهاتف. وتتوج الفكرة في عمل ليلى كمذيعة في برنامج عن الأسرار، التي تنتقدها أمها «عندكو إسهال كلام.. مفيش أي تحفظ.. جيل أبيح»، يتابع السيناريو فكرة الخوف من الآخر والاختباء ايضاً بطبيعة عمل يوسف الليلي في مكان مشبوه لا يرتاده سوى الزانيات، وشبح الخوف الذي يفزع أحد المتصلين من علاقته بزوجته بسبب إصابته بالإيدز، إضافة إلى أهم مشاهد الفيلم عندما يجد يوسف نفسه محاطا بعدد متجمهر من الناس يتلصص عليه وهو نائم في سيارته وكأنه سمكة كبيرة داخل حوض سمك.

السبب الأهم في الإخفاق راجع لرغبة المخرج في خلق حالة سينمائية خاصة لفيلمه، حالة من الجمود التي تغطي على أجواء الفيلم بأكمله، وتتسبب في ايقاع شديد الرتابة والبطء، ينطوي ذلك على حركة الكاميرا التي لا تتحرك كثيراً، وعندما تتحرك فهي تشرد عن الموضوع، كما ينطوي على أداء الممثلين البارد بدون سبب واضح في بادئ الأمر، ويعزز ذلك المشاهد بالإضاءة الخافتة عموماً أو الغارقة في الظلمة في بعض الأحيان. وحتى عندما يصور فيلم جزئية «الأميرة والعصفور» بطريقة الأفلام القديمة فهو لا يلجأ إلى الحركة السريعة التي تميز أفلام تلك الفترة، كما قدمها من قبل في مشهد الباشا في أول أفلامه «سرقات صيفية»، ناهيك من مشاهد الممثلين الذين يتحدثون إلى الكاميرا، فهي مشاهد طويلة جداً تحوي منولوجات بالغة الطول مع أداء في وضعية ثابتة في معظم الحالات، هذه الحالة السينمائية مهما كانت معبرة عن أفكار ورؤية نصر الله إلى العالم اليوم، فهي أدت إلى انصراف المشاهد العربي غير المعتاد على هذه النوعية من اللغة السينمائية، وقبلها المشاهد الغربي، الذي لا يجد ما يجذبه في فيلم غارق في المحلية والسوداوية وشديد البطء

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