السينما التي أصنعها مزعجة / The Cinema I Make Is Disturbing
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Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics
[The film director Omar Amiralai has been involved in filmmaking in Syria for more than two decades, and is mostly known for a specific genre of documentary that verges on feature film. In this oral interview, he discusses how he came to be a film director, after starting his studies in painting and theater, as well as his views on cinema. The following are extracts from the interview, published in full in the Arabic section. * When I was ten or twelve, I used to sketch satirical caricatures, drawing attention to deviations so as to correct them. The satirical point of view was the beginning of my relation to something called "expression." * Just after joining the Institute of Cinema in Paris, the student uprising of 1968 took place. It marked me intellectually, in the sense that I recognized that knowledge comes from the street, not libraries. My first experience with the camera was then. I went down to the streets and made an unsolicited documentary report. The subject matter did not touch me directly, but it reflected something in me. * I have always attempted to find a cinematic language with character. In fact, my films-as others have attested-are on the frontiers between documentary and feature film. To put it more precisely, my films are not entirely documentary, for if they were, they would be a 'mechanical' representation of reality; nor are they feature films since they render reality. It is a rendition that is controlled by imagination, yet at the same time it is not at variance with reality and keeps very close to it. * I believe that in my film The Chickens (Al-Dajaj ) the use of cinematic techniques is skillful. The film expresses many levels of reality; and I consider it the most 'democratic' film that I have ever made since it permits different readings-all of which condemn existing reality and the hegemonic notion of change. * I have chosen to be marginal, not in cinema but in life. I have refused to depend on cinema for a living, and this provided me with freedom of expression. Still, I have been besieged because the cinema I make is disturbing. * The only place I can opt for is culture, because I can consider it a place of my own, a true homeland-since I belong to it neither by force nor by chance. * People of my generation involved in filmmaking were the first ones to start a national cinema in our country in order to confront Egyptian cinema. But now I believe that calling it 'national' cinema then was chauvinistic since it embodied regionalism and narrowness. It would have been better to call for an 'alternative' cinema first and then for a 'national' cinema. The questions that should be asked are: Do we have cinema? Do we have films that belong conceptually and artistically to the world of cinema? National cinema is simply the nation of cinema.]
(1995). السينما التي أصنعها مزعجة / The Cinema I Make Is Disturbing. Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics, 138–147.
Amiralai, Omar, et al.
"السينما التي أصنعها مزعجة / The Cinema I Make Is Disturbing." Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics, no. 15, 1995, pp. 138–147.