Films byTexts by Sabzian: Milestones

Sabzian’s Milestones is a series of screenings of landmark films in the history of cinema, films that put aesthetic and political issues on the spot, incite debate and reflection. A series of points of departure.

Conversation EN
2.06.2021

I think of myself as someone who has an instinctual understanding of what it is to be a minority person. That is someone whose existence is highly marginal in the society and understands it in the gut but will not be dominated by it. Therefore, I refuse all of those labels, such as Black Woman Filmmaker, because I believe in my work as something that can be looked at without labels.

Conversation EN
2.06.2021

“The thing that writing teaches you, which is probably the thing I’ve discovered that I know best about, is the mastery of form. And each discipline is really an exercise in understanding what is allowable in the structure of that particular form. Screenplay writing has curves and you have to write for the curves of the story.”

Article EN
2.06.2021

In order to get at how I think about making a movie at a low budget, I have to be able to give you the theory, the narrative theory, that supports my reasons for making movies. If any of you have seen my work, you know I’m only interested in telling stories, and most of those stories are fairly contemporary. And to some degree they are ahistorical, meaning, though I think that is going to change, that the focus of the work is entirely narrative in orientation.

Article EN
2.06.2021

It would be more than fair to say that in American films, the motif of adventure is one of the favorite story-telling devices. So many films come to mind – from the most banal to the most memorable of the western, detective, and war genre films of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s to the rash of modern-day science fiction films patterned on the Star Wars or Close Encounters formulas. (...) Two other films stand out in my mind that take the adventure story theme to another level, and therefore deserve a closer look: Charles Lane’s A Place in Time, and Charles Burnett’s Killer Of Sheep.

Article NL EN
21.04.2021

A year later, when the Germans had lost the war and the concentration camps were liberated, the Allies photographed and filmed the camps, the survivors, and the traces that pointed to the millions murdered. It was above all the images of piles of shoes, glasses, false teeth, the mountains of shorn hair that have made such a profound impression. Perhaps we need images, so that something that is hardly imaginable can register: photographic images as the impressions of the actual at a distance.

Article NL EN
21.04.2021

Een jaar later, toen de Duitsers de oorlog hadden verloren en de concentratiekampen waren bevrijd, fotografeerden en filmden de geallieerden de complexen, de overlevenden en de sporen die wezen op miljoenen vermoorde mensen. Vooral de beelden van stapels schoenen, brillen en kunstgebitten en de bergen afgeschoren haar maakten een diepe indruk. Misschien moeten er eerst beelden zijn vooraleer iets wat nauwelijks voorstelbaar is indruk maakt, fotografische beelden, afdrukken van de werkelijkheid op afstand.

Conversation EN
21.04.2021

Conversely, I try to find my words on the editing table. I have both my typewriter and my editing table in one room. It is connected to this question of writing and filmmaking, because it is also very evident you cannot make films the same way you can write a text. For the text you need to go to the library, but 80% or so of them are created in the room, or if not created, then at least the final version is made indoors at your desk. That is also the last stage of the filmmaking, the aspect where writing and filmmaking come together. People ask me, why don’t you write anymore, and I realise it is because I have succeeded in making a form of writing out of my filmmaking.

Article FR EN
17.03.2021

I would like to define the intricate relationship between my cinematographic language and the prevalent political language. The prevalent political language aims at determining a harmony of concrete interests. It is a uniform language that emphasizes the difference between what is similar and what is different within a very precise geographical and economical area. On the other hand, my cultural action, and not cultural language, aims at liberating spaces where everyone can be moved, can rediscover the real nature of things, marvel at the world, think about it and immerse oneself in the world of childhood. Finally, politics excludes the imaginary, unless it can be used for ideological or partisan ends. But my films’ cultural world is made up of both reality and the imagination, both of which are vital to the creation of my films. It is like a child’s quest for identity: he or she needs these two levels – reality and dream – to approach life in a balanced and non-schizophrenic way.

Article FR EN
17.03.2021

[J]e voudrais définir la relation complexe qui existe entre mon langage cinématographique et le langage politique dominant. Le langage politique dominant vise à déterminer une harmonie d’intérêts concrets. C’est un langage uniforme qui souligne la différence entre ce qui est similaire et ce qui est différent dans une zone géographique et économique très précise. D’autre part, mon action culturelle, et non le langage culturel, vise à libérer des espaces où chacun peut être ému, peut redécouvrir la nature des choses, s’émerveiller du monde, y penser et s’immerger dans le monde de l’enfance. Enfin, la politique exclut l’imaginaire, à moins qu’il ne puisse être utilisé à des fins idéologiques ou partisanes. Mais le monde culturel est constitué à la fois de réalité et d’imagination, deux éléments essentiels à la création de mes films. C’est comme une quête d’identité pour un enfant : il a besoin de ces deux niveaux – réalité et rêve – pour aborder la vie d’une manière équilibrée et non schizophrénique.

Conversation FR EN
17.03.2021

“Yes, from a filmmaker’s point of view, we wanted to look for images other than those brought back by television crews every time there’s a political event in the occupied territories (manifestations, strikes, riots, etc.). We actually believe that these images make us forget the essence: the sense of the struggle of these people. The informative television images are images of ‘effects’, and we are looking for images of ‘causes’.”

Conversation FR EN
17.03.2021

« Oui, notre point de vue de cinéastes était de rechercher des images autres que celles ramenées par les équipes de télévision à chaque événement politique dans les territoires occupés (manifestations, grèves, émeutes, etc.). Nous croyons, en effet, que ces images finissent par faire oublier l’essentiel : le sens de la lutte de ces gens. Les images d’information télévisées sont des images d’« effets », nous recherchions des images de  « causes ». »

Conversation FR EN
17.03.2021

“[Fertile Memory] is the result of several years of work. I made several reports in the occupied territories, but I also have to say that the film was beyond me. The Palestinian question is basically an issue of oppression: an oppression that dominates the world. I said to myself that I would be able to give the Palestinian question a new dimension by talking about the most oppressed. I thought that women would help bring out all the contradictions.”

Conversation FR EN
17.03.2021

[C]’est le résultat de plusieurs années de travail, j’ai fait plusieurs reportages dans les territoires occupés, mais je dois dire aussi que le film m’a dépassé. Au fond, c’est quoi le problème palestinien, c’est le problème de l’oppression : une oppression qui domine le monde. Je me suis dit que c’était en parlant des plus opprimés que je parviendrai à donner une dimension au problème palestinien. J’ai pensé que la femme permettrait de faire ressortir toutes les contradictions.

Article FR EN
17.03.2021

The source that irrigates Fertile Memory springs from two poles that constitute the foundations and permanence of the Palestinian soul: usurped land and women. Few films show daily life in the physical and temporal reality (32 years for Mrs Farah Hatoum) of the Israeli occupation. And if these films exist, their lack of credibility is such that at best, we make do with imagining the thoughts behind the gestures and gazes – the deepest dimension of which only the prism of culture will render.

Article FR EN
17.03.2021

La mémoire fertile jaillit de deux pôles qui constituent les fondements et la pérennité de l’âme palestinienne : la terre usurpée et la femme. Rares sont les films qui donnent à voir le quotidien vécu dans la réalité physique et temporelle (32 ans pour Mme Farah Hatoum) de l’occupation israélienne. Ou, lorsque ces films sont, leur non-crédibilité est telle qu’on se contente dans le meilleur des cas, de deviner les pensées qui habitent gestes et regards et que seul, le prisme de la culture, nous restitue dans leur dimension profonde.

Article FR EN
17.03.2021

It is Khleifi’s achievement to have embodied certain aspects of Palestinian women’s lives in film. He is careful to let the strengths of Farah and Sahar emerge slowly, even if at a pace that risks losing the film the larger audience it deserves. He deliberately disappoints the expectations engendered in us by the commercial film (plot, suspense, drama), in favor of a representational idiom more innovative and – because of its congruence with its anomalous and eccentric material – more authentic.

Article FR EN
17.03.2021

Khleifi a réussi à incorporer au cinéma certains aspects de la vie des femmes palestiniennes. Il prend soin de laisser les forces de Farah et Sahar émerger lentement, même si c’est à un rythme qui risque de perdre le grand public qu’il mérite. Il déçoit délibérément les attentes suscitées en nous par le film commercial (intrigue, suspense, drame), en faveur d’un langage de représentation plus innovant et, du fait de sa congruence avec son matériel irrégulier et excentrique, plus authentique.

Article EN
20.01.2021

Shadi Abdel Salam carried two cultures within him: he was born and raised in Alexandria, and his mother and maternal ancestors came from Al-Minieh. He travelled in two worlds: that of the cosmopolitan city of Alexandria and its rich Hellenic heritage, and that of Al-Minieh, the pearl of Upper Egypt, imbued with traditions and customs drawing their rigidity from distant pharaonic origins. Although he looked like a noble cavalier, with matching gentleman-like qualities, fluent in English, French and Italian, he always remained that austere son of Upper Egypt, linked to his ancestors who lie inside the tombs dug into the hills of Thebes by a very long history.

Article EN
20.01.2021

On 16 December 1969, The Mummy was shown for the first time to the audience of the Cairo Film Club, which included many intellectuals. In the dark, Shadi Abdel Salam waited for the reaction of his family and friends to this new work of art. All were moved by the film’s sober technique and by its theme, which was deeply touching for Egyptians: a sacred theme presented in a new form – the language of film – and accompanied by the sincerity that’s in harmony with this people.

Article EN
20.01.2021

A biographical chronicle of Egyptian screenwriter, costume and set designer, and filmmaker Shadi Abdel Salam (1930-1986) narrated by means of a collection of excerpted interviews.

“I am from both Upper Egypt and Alexandria … the son of conservative families from Minya and Alexandria. My father was a lawyer, a man of the law … My name is Shādī Muhammad Mahmūd ‘Abd al-Salām.”

Article EN
20.01.2021

Shadi Abdel Salam’s entire screenplay for Al-mummia [The Mummy] (1969), also known as The Night of Counting the Years.

“Long pan of the Pennedjem Papyrus showing: the god Anubis; the two goddesses Isis and Nephtys; five wailing women; a mummy inside a shrine over a sledge before whom two priests offer a piece of meat and other offerings; and lastly the mummy, with the Jackal-headed Anubis standing behind it. Interior. Night. Corner, Cairo Museum, Summer 1881 A.D.”

Article NL
16.09.2020

Een film als Méditerranée leert ons dat de tijd zich kan openen door zijn aanwezigheid te ontvouwen. Het is Jean-Daniel Pollets grote doorbraak en het maakt deze film tot een meesterwerk waarnaar we eindeloos kunnen blijven kijken zonder dat de film veroudert of aan kracht inboet, zonder dat de woorden – dwingend, somber, inwijdend, doordrenkt van de immense gloed van de zon – ons ooit de indruk geven dat we ze al gehoord hebben.

Article NL
9.09.2020

Méditerranée slaagt in een radicale benadering van de mythische functie die door het Griekse werkwoord mueîn, “de ogen en de mond sluiten”, wordt aangeduid en die uitzicht geeft op drie simultane vlakken: dromena: de dingen van handeling – legomena: de gezegde dingen – deiknumena: de getoonde dingen.

Article NL
9.09.2020

Een onbekend geheugen vlucht halsstarrig naar steeds langer vervlogen tijden. De indruk van ouderdom neemt toe. Velerlei landen… valselijk ingeslapen... En alles lijkt het geordende te hebben van het buiten…onfeilbaar… En steeds die vloed van onmetelijkheid vanbinnen, ‑ die vloed van zwevend geheugen…

De Nederlandse vertaling van de tekst van Philippe Sollers voor Méditerranée van Jean-Daniel Pollet uit 1963.

Article NL
6.11.2019

In een gesprek omschreef Kramer de film als “zijn laatste”. “Alles moest erin zitten”, zo geloofde hij. “Alle wezens. De volledige volheid van gevoelens.” Gedeeltelijk gebaseerd op het leven in een commune in Vermont gebruikte Kramer een palet van de vier natuurelementen – “vuur-water-lucht-aarde-mensen” – als leidraad. Daarmee volgde hij een brede groep mensen die uit de jaren zestig waren aangespoeld en verweesd de nieuwe wereld tegemoetzagen. Allen delen ze een geschiedenis van radicalisme en het besef van politieke schipbreuk. Zo kan Milestones in 2019 als het begin van het einde en als het begin van het nieuwe gelezen worden: de dood van de welvaartstaat en het begin van de linkse levenspolitiek, de moeizame weg van King naar Clinton. 

Screening
Sat 28 Jan 2017, 23:00
Beursschouwburg, Brussels
PART OF Sabzian: Milestones
Event
Thu 21 Jan 2021, 19:30
PART OF Sabzian: Milestones
Film
Screening
Thu 18 Mar 2021, 19:30
PART OF Sabzian: Milestones
Screening
Thu 22 Apr 2021, 19:30
PART OF Sabzian: Milestones
Screening
Thu 3 Jun 2021, 19:30
PART OF Sabzian: Milestones