Interviews

War as Backdrop to Teenage Antics Brings Beirut to American Audiences

By 
Kate Seelye


Seelye: Why did you choose to tell the story of two teenage boys coming of age in wartime Beirut?

Doueiri: I remember the war as a teenager. Furthermore, I knew from the beginning that making my protagonists teenagers would give me more freedom of expression. A teenager can get away with things during a time of war that adults cannot. As teenagers, Tarek and Omar had the freedom to behave without inhibitions and explore their sexuality.

Seelye: How autobiographical is this film?

Reckoning with Darkness: Looking Back on Algeria’s Dark Decade

By 
Bobby Gulshan
The Algerian Civil War began in 1991 and ended in 2002. Known as the Dark Decade, the period began with a coup to nullify the imminent takeover of government by Islamists and was followed by 10 years of brutality, violence, and fear. With the emergence of Da’esh (or the Islamic State), we now witness contemporary scenes that feel all too familiar for those who remember the earlier terrors. As too often happens, the geopolitical lens obscures the human element, abstracting suffering into discussions about strategy and policy. Salem Brahimi’s film, “Let Them Come,”1 takes us back to the Dark Decade, with a vocabulary and tone  so reminiscent of our present moment, providing us with a poignant and at times chilling window into the lives of ordinary Algerians.
 
 
The Algerian Civil War began in 1991 and ended in 2002. Known as the Dark Decade, the period began with a coup to nullify the imminent takeover of government by Islamists and was followed by 10 years of brutality, violence, and fear. With the emergence of Da’esh (or the Islamic State), we now witness contemporary scenes that feel all too familiar for those who remember the earlier terrors.

Q&A with Director and Writer Reine Mitri on Her Banned Film “In this Land Lay Graves of Mine”

By 
Angele Ellis

Angele Ellis, who reviews Reine Mitri’s “In this Land Lay Graves of Mine” in the forthcoming issue of Al Jadid, conducted a Q&A through e-mail with the film’s director. Ms. Mitri responded to questions about her changing attachment to and perceptions of Lebanon after making this personal documentary, the advantages (or disadvantages) of being a female filmmaker, and her artistic influences and inspirations. When asked about the effects of the ban the Lebanese government has imposed on this film, Ms. Mitri replied that censorship would not affect its reception, distribution, or inclusion in international film festivals. Perhaps her answer speaks volumes on how the world views Lebanon’s standards of censorship.

 
Ellis: Watching “In This Land,” this viewer was affected by how the film moves back and forth between elegy, emotional exorcism, and indictment of Lebanon’s leadership, past and present.

Etab Hreib on Conflict, Commercialism , and Sexism in Syria’s Current Art Movement

By 
Rebecca Joubin

Critically acclaimed Syrian watercolorist, Etab Hreib, a native of Der-Ez-Zor, graduated from the Graphic Arts Department of the University of Damascus. Since then, she has exhibited her work in various parts of the world. She was the recipient of the Al-Mahros Golden Award in Tunisia, a Golden Award from the Chinese Ministry of Culture, and an award from the Ministry of Culture in Algeria.

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Dina Abd Elsalam on Passion, Art, and Inspiration

By 
Nada Ramadan Elnahla

In this fascinating interview, Professor Nada Ramdan Elnahla talks with Dina Abd Elsalam, Egyptian filmmaker, novelist, and Alexandria University lecturer. Ms. Abd Elsalam speaks about her acclaimed and award-winning film, “Rest in Peace” and her novel,  “A Text Abandoned by its Characters.”

Dina Abd Elsalam is an Egyptian lecturer in Alexandria University. Her film debut, “This Is Not a Pipe” (2010), was screened in a number of international festivals and received the Arab Women Filmmakers Award from Baghdad International Film Festival in 2011. It was followed by her novel, “A Text Abandoned by its Characters” (Nass Hagaraho Abtallaho), published in December, 2012.

Iman C. Bennani Speaks with Arab-American Poet Lahab Assef al-Jundi

By 
Iman Bennani

I thought I would pursue a career in the scientific disciplines and I came to the States to study electrical engineering.  However, as I grew older, I began to discover my love for poetry. By age 30, I had started writing what I thought of as “love scribbles.”

Left

San-Antonio based poet Lahab Assef al-Jundi is the son of acclaimed Syrian poet Ali al-Jundi. The younger Al-Jundi writes poetry, mainly in English, that transcends ethnic themes to address issues of universal significance. Both political and personal, his richly evocative poems reveal a refined consciousness, a keen perceptiveness, and a serious engagement with humane concerns.

Riyadh al-Turk: In and Out of Syrian Prison

By 
MOHAMMAD ALI ATASSI

As a person, prisoner, and leader, Riyadh al-Turk has few parallels in politics. He is a professional politician in the noblest sense of the word. Politics for al-Turk is a means of attaining the greatest degree of justice, human nobility, and freedom. He has dedicated the bulk of his time and effort to politics, only to be repaid with a lengthy prison sentence. 

Noted  Former Syrian Prisoner Riyadh al-Turk

Speaks Out on Life Inside Prison

 

‘I stop thinking in prison’

 

Words Behind Bars

By 
MOHAMMAD ALI ATASSI

It is hard to keep calm in the face of the events that Faraj Bairqadar describes in this interview. Born in 1951 in the city of Homs, he is only the second Syrian political prisoner to speak publicly about his experience, though it is an experience shared by numerous other prisoners.

Syrian Poet Faraj Bairqadar Speaks after 14 Years of Detention

‘The freedom within us is larger than the jails we are in’

 

Eyad Shehab Ahmed on Editing, Documentary Projects

By 
Rebecca Joubin

Eyad Shehab Ahmad has been a prominent Syrian television drama editor since 1997. 

Right

Eyad Shehab Ahmad has been a prominent Syrian television drama editor since 1997.  The television dramas he has edited include: Bab al-Hara Part 1, 2, 3 (2006, 07, 08); Zaman al-Ar (2009); and most recently Assad al-Waraq (2010), La’nat al-Tin (2010), and Al-Takht-e al-Sharqi (2010).  As the director of the company Version: Media Production, he also makes documentaries of leading figures in Arab culture, such as Adonis.

 

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