Special Mention-Cinema du Reel Film Festival-Paris 2014.
This film is made up of three separate visual stories, shot over a period of ten years in three different cities of the Middle East: Erbil in Kurdistan, Northern Iraq (2002), Ramallah in the West Bank, Palestine (2003) and Baghdad (2004 to 2012). There is no dialogue and no narration. It’s requires the viewer to watch and see and feel.I lived in these cites temporarily and filmed the life on the streets below from behind windows and on balconies, to reveal the daily struggle of the human spirit in this region, express a faith in their resilience and ourage. Once I started to put the material together, I could see that this was a subjective, personal journey to the world close to my heart.
Over the last two decades, many of the documentaries which you see on television are more like radio plays than films. The audience is rarely allowed to form its own relationship with the visual images, which are not trusted to convey their meaning. Instead the commentary endlessly explains to us what we are watching, leaving no room for our active engagement with the material. This kind of work deteriorates into a kind of primary school illustrative lesson, losing its aesthetic and dramatic potential.
For many years I have wanted to create a film, which works only through its visual images and to liberate myself from spoken narration, voice-over or interviews. But I wondered how one could make such a film that would be as dramatic and emotionally involving as a fiction without words or script. It would be like a play without a playwright.
Human language is formed by blocks of letters and words or ideograms, as in Chinese. Similarly, films can be built on the elements of cinematic language: cinematography, composition, shot design, dramatic light, the expressive use of colour, dynamic movement, time-lapse imagery. These elements of cinematic language are universal, and they can be used to provide an alternative way for documentary films to explore the human condition on its many levels; emotional, spiritual, political, intellectual