It is estimated that more that a quarter of a million people have died, and eleven million are displaced in what is now five years of civil war in Syria with no end in sight. With the well-documented dispossession and death, however, comes creative reinterpretation of the war-torn landscape and the deadly weapons that deliver this destruction. Artist Akram Abu al-Fawz collects remnants of weaponry and transforms them into objects of art, adorning them with arabesque motifs and perhaps re-rendering them in motifs that immobilize their destructive meaning. read more
Syrian-born Kkaled Abdulwahed comes from a graphic design communications background, but has created striking video pieces that look directly at life through the lens of war. This piece, Bullet, combines hand-drawn animation with graffiti and uses a bullet-symbol as a timeline projectile traveling through life impacting people, facilitating authority and power, and finally bringing with it, death. The heart, a common icon of social positiveness and well-being, and butterflies, symbols of childhood innocence, are defended and defeated as the bullet glides through this narrative, now three years old and still completely relevant. read more
Egyptian artist and animator, Mokhtar Talaat, created this very great stop-motion film, and being an animation aficionado and wannabe animator myself, I understand the enormous effort required to create this short piece. His story tells of a dad and daughter family team without mom, and we see a common story of a highly creative and precocious kid trying to break through dad’s work for some attention. Both are occupied with what they create, and preoccupation gives way to collaboration.
I know little of Mokhtar Talaat or his Mokaabat Studio, but I hope he creates more animation, and that he gets support from other filmmakers, musicians, and sponsors too.
White Soldier, a performance art concept from Yuda Braun, a former Israeli soldier, who with his colleagues between 2009 and 2013, dressed head to foot in battle gear rendered in pure white, patrolling Israeli-Palestinian cities and neighborhoods invoking self-examination of a largely militarized state and confrontation from observers. read more
Write Down, I am an Arab, is a documentary by Ibtisam Mara’ana Menuhin about Mahmood Darwish, one of the Middle East’s most prolific and loved contemporary poets. Born in Palestine in 1941 in the village of al-Birwa, Darwish witnessed the razing of his village and home by Israeli forces in 1948. Following this, his family fled to Lebanon and returned later to Acre eventually settling in Deir al-Asad. He studied for one year in Moscow then moved to Cairo. He then spent twenty-six years in exile living between Paris and Beirut during which time he wrote many anthologies of poetry. He died in Houston, Texas in 2008. This is a partial list of his honors and awards: read more