Monday, January 23, 2006

Well, maybe I wasn't. . .

Ok, so I most definitely, certainly wasn't back. Life has been utter insanity for the past 3+ weeks and I'm happy to report that I'm almost back in the game. Or back to normal. Whatever you call it.

Editing the film was the most exhilirating, exhausting activity I've done in a long time, except perhaps spend 24/7 with a two-year old for days on end. Which I've been doing rather a lot of, as well. Um, actually, spending 24/7 with a two-year old AND editing a movie at the same time is killer.

The screening is this upcoming Saturday eve, and I'm looking forward to it. I'm happy with what I've ended up with and am excited to hear what people have to say about it. I got a bit of an idea of possible comments the other evening when a friend came over and was concerned that my subjects were saying way too many positive things about the U.S. without focusing on positive stuff in the Arab world. I certainly wasn't aiming for that, but I definitely can't please 'em all.

A number of years ago, Samer and I went to a screening of one of Azza Hassan's first documentaries. It was about Palestine and the relationship between Arabs and the first Jews who had arrived in Israel. The film showcased lot of old photos and had many rather loving images of a time that wasn't so fraught with hostilities. It was short and sweet--a lovely story. Which is why I was shocked when the lights came back on and everyone in the room began pontificating in that annoying way people do in public settings, speaking formal Arabic and attempting to look as if they were experts on the subject. They trashed the film, with every one of them asking some variation of "Why didn't you show _________?" or "Why did you do _________ ?" Good lord, it made you want to give all of them cameras so they'd just leave her alone and go out and make the film they wanted.

Part of the problem was that this is simply what happens when among the self-appointed "experts" everyone always encounters in these settings in Amman. But the other part is that Azza's film was telling their stories. It was like they all wanted her to speak for them, make sure to include everything right down to the minutest detail and include their point of view as well.

As if that were possible.

So perhaps I'm setting myself up in making this film. I'm telling stories of Arabs, yet I'm not Arab. But the reason I want to make films in the first place is because I want Americans to see images they never see of the Arab world and voices they don't expect to hear. That, in my mind, seems like one of the few ways people can begin to "get" what's going on there and how people feel about the U.S. and its policies. And because of my perspective, I have a good idea of where Americans are coming from (I was raised in Appalachia, for Pete's sake!) and how to approach the whole awareness-raising side of it.

At least I hope so. Don't look for me anytime soon showing my film back in Amman, though. I don't think my sanity could handle it. . .

2 Comments:

At 12:18 AM, Blogger salam said...

I was actually looking forward to have you film shown in Amman,I do realize you could face a lot of stupid criticizm,but ,you know what you have to be brave and do that soon.I am sure not everyone will be as critic as you expect.Good luck!

 
At 10:15 AM, Blogger deep said...

i can't wait till this saturday to see the film. don't freak about the reviews. the worst thing anything around here will say is that its "interesting." i'm simply amazed that you actually made a film in such a short period of time. i had no idea it was even possible. congrats!

 

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