Wednesday, 05. July 2023, 10:24-12:38
7, 21 June &
Looking back and confronting the different blind spots that shape the histories of Cinema and communities in Lebanon, this film and talk program intends to explore the concept of being-with the unfinished in various ways. It aims to discuss the caesuras that shape cinematic language and respond to the erasure of a community of specters - the specters of a community-to-come, of the missing-other-to-come-back, and of the concept of living-together amongst the living-on in ‘post-post’ civil wars Lebanon.
All talks pertaining to the three events will be held at 6:30 pm and will be followed by the screenings starting 8:00 pm.
Week One (June 7) – curated by Anaïs Farine:
The first screening proposes to narrate the life and spirit of the Arab Ciné-club in Beirut (1973-1982) by retrieving, watching, and discussing three short films that have been made by some board committee member of this initiative (Ghassan Kanafani, A Word... A Gun, Kassem Hawal), as well as short films that have been seen and debated in the context of the Arab Ciné-club. The screening will be introduced by a talk stressing on how the memories of cinemagoing had actively mapped the city of Beirut and will engage with the hypothesis that these memories can help recirculate these films as tools that can be shared and contested across generations. The presentation will underline how films have participated in the struggle for social and political transformations by examining the links between student uprisings and the creation of the Arab Ciné-club in Beirut (Alors, Jean Chamoun). It will examine the coming-together of a community through memories of films (such as Z by Costa-Gavras, The Sparrow by Youssef Chahine and Beirut Oh Beirut by Maroun Baghdadi) as well as memories of the social act of going to the cinema. It also aims at examining the caesuras in the history of the Arab Ciné-club as well as the looting of a great number of Palestinian documents during the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon (among those, the original copy of Glow Of Memories by Ismail Shammout).
- Alors, Jean Chamoun, 1973, 20 min, France/Lebanon
- Ghassan Kanafani, A Word... A Gun, Kassem Hawal, 1973, 16 min, Palestine
- Glow Of Memories, Ismail Shammout, 1973, 11 min, Palestine
Week Two (June 21) – curated by Ali Jaber:
Spectral Visions, Impossible-Mourning, and A Hauntological Ethic of Being-With in Joreige and Hadjithomas’ A Perfect Day
Discussing A Perfect Day (2005), the talk argues that Derrida’s visor-effect can be engaged productively against Lacan’s anamorphosis, as that which forces an adjustment in spectatorial “ways of seeing” and “unknowing” of “unacknowledged histories.” In Derrida’s hauntology, the spectral is “something that looks at us and addresses us,” “before” and “beyond” our awareness of its regard, and this asymmetricality assists this essay in identifying a network of spectral visualities that force a continuous re-structuring of “seeing” as permitted by cinematic technē. These “blind encounters” - blind spots - also function as imperative for an ethic of being-with-otherness whose “de-ontic” visage escapes the effacing machines of vision and psychic “totalization,” and which might breed the violence of reducing “otherness to the order of the selfsame,” or otherwise, the “falling prey” to the archive’s thanato-mnemonic dimension. The trope of “blindness” also corrupts the post-war techno-legal machine issuing untimely deaths and sponsoring the reparational dimension of a resolved and facile “work of mourning” always capable of the teleologically overcoming of the loss of otherness. In the film, every cinematic spectral visitation, like every untimely return of Hamlet’s ghost, brings the disadjusting - spacing, delaying, deferring - of the times of death and mourning, and thus disrupting the state’s active “manipulation of mourning.”. Claudia, the film’s protagonist, and much like Antigone, remains without a sepulcher. In her “impossible-mourning” however, she welcomes a liaison with a “faceless” visitor whose “untimely returns” disjoint the present - our present - rendering it indefinitely out-of-sync.
Film:A Perfect Day, Joanna Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, 2005, 88 min, Lebanon
Week Three (July 5) – curated by Ali Jaber:
Reconciliation and Mourning Interdicted
If mourning, as Derrida contends, is an “experiential structure,” a figure of the impossible, then what happens if the perpetrator “engages me to the death of the other” without ever issuing any truth? What happens if the other’s murder is denied as having ever occurred and mourning purposefully made impossible? The probing of an impossible-mourning welcomes a deconstruction of the scenes of forgiveness and “reconciliation” in the “time after time,” when a “slew” of perpetrators sought forgiveness for crimes without content. What occupies - haunts - this essay is the cinematic example of a “crime without truth” in which “every request for forgiveness” by the executioner “would only be a redoubling of the crime, a further attack on the victim.”
In Raheb’s documentary Sleepless Nights (2012), what unfolds is a scene of political reconciliation and manipulation of mourning, and like bombs, kidnapping, and killing, it is “always monolingual.” This scene repeats another scene of friend-enemy reconciliation that was, like any political institution, brokered on a manipulation of mourning. In this contemporary Lebanese “theater of reconciliation,” we encounter a cinematic staging of a “theater of testimony” in which the catastrophe of forbidden morning unfolds, once more. As we will see, the concept of testimony remains in the hands of the ‘torturer,’ “once and for all.” The torturer testifies” and confesses for crimes without truths nor corpses. Worse: when avowal comes with a demand for forgiveness, we ask, in every instance, who is addressed in this demand, and doesn't it commit the crime anew? In seeking “reconciliation,” Sleepless Nights in fact replays “the monolingual and monochromatic universe of reconciliation,” where the soliloquy of one voice is heard - the executioner’s. Consequently, the crime will forever remain without memory, without repentance, without an issued time of death, without localizing graves, and without forgiveness - and thus unmournable.
Of this catastrophe, only executioners speak. Maryam Saidi, however, wears Antigone’s veil. She will remain forever without a crypt. Her hauntological wake will remain freed from teleology and calculation, from mourning or debts. Without her disavowal of reparation, we would never have known this.
Film: Sleepless Nights, Eliane Raheb, 2012, 128 min, Lebanon
Bio: Anaïs Farine is a cinema studies researcher and a film curator. She holds a Ph.D from the University of La Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris III. Her Ph.D thesis focused on the so-called “Euro-Mediterranean dialogue” and its Filmic Imaginary (1995 – 2017). Her writings have been published in Kohl, Cinematheque Beirut, Trouble dans les collections, Ettijahat, Débordements, The Funambulist Magazine, Africultures, and Aniki, among others. She is a member of the organizing committee of the Festival Ciné-Palestine (Paris). She is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Orient Institut Beirut for the project "The making of “Arab alternative cinema” and its audiences: Babelsberg, Beirut, Damascus, Leipzig".
Bio: Ali Jaber is a PhD researcher in philosophy and film studies and a university professor, and has an M.A in Film Studies from Kingston University London. He specializes in French philosopher Jacques Derrida and focuses on extending Derrida’s deconstruction to the study of Lebanese post-war film. His academic interests also span Heideggerian studies and its french reception, biopolitical theory, and Lacanian psychoanalysis, and has special expertise in the temporal “concepts” of hauntology and kairology. His filmic interests also extend to Palestinian, Syria, Algerian, and Egyptian cinemas.
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