Shams

A link to my thesis short movie

Password: ShamsTarek

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Week 7

I’ve been lately focusing a lot on what’s happening in Tunisia and “Shams” (The LGBTQ Organization) online and on social media. A lot of articles were written, leaders of the organization were invited to talk on TV, radios… But what was more interesting to me is the “reactions” of people on social media. Especially Facebook and Twitter (The most used ones in Tunisia). They show how people care about the subject, but not all in favor. A lot of the comments were against a whole community, against its own existence. But what is starting to make a difference, is that a lot of “famous” people are starting to publicly defend the cause, even some religious figures and leaders. Articles, Facebook comments, tweets… (in Arabic and French)  that are both helping the people there to be more open about the idea, and helping me to develop my story. Inspire me to tell it in a more adequate and relevant way.

Shadow tests

Last week I was shooting randomly just to have an idea about the lighting, how close the “puppets” have to be to the screen, different materials… These screenshots are the least successful ones, since I was trying different lights and different exposures to finally get what I needed, or almost. Because I have to do more tests now with the real Puppets that I’ll be using, with sticks, a better camera and the right lights.

Week four

Going from documentary to fiction is not an easy task. My original idea for this year’s project was a documentary about the LGBTQ community in Tunisia. But I couldn’t make it happen because of different reasons; I need more time for the shooting there, more interviews (but the interviewees are not ready to talk about that in front of a camera)… But since am still interested in talking about the struggle of this community in my country, I decided to “translate” it in a short fiction movie. Heavily inspired from the life and recent incidents of a member of Shams (an organization to defend LGBTQ rights in Tunisia). The subject itself has been talked about. But not in Tunisia. And being outside the country, not being able to be there and be part of the organization and help in other ways, making a movie about it is my contribution. The movie is not necessarily about this particular organization or this particular country. It is about the “suffering” and the fight of one person I know, but also very similar to a lot of other people’s stories.

I also have technical challenges in this movie, because I want to work with shadows and puppets, mixed media that I don’t have enough experience in. So most of my time now is writing and experimenting works with different lights, puppets, lenses… I want this movie to have the clear message that I want to communicate. But at the same time I want it to be appreciated by everyone, not for one kind of an audience or one group of people.

“I don’t like the idea of “understanding” a film. I don’t believe that rational understanding is an essential element in the reception of any work of art. Either a film has something to say to you or it hasn’t. If you are moved by it, you don’t need it explained to you. If not, no explanation can make you moved by it.” Federico Fellini.

Shadow play

This year I decided to make a short narrative movie. Parts of it will be in “shadows”. It’s an ancient Chinese technique that consists in making theater or a stage, making the puppets, writing the stories and moving the characters (puppets). Inspired by an old Turkish theater character “Karagoz”, which became famous in the Middle East and North Africa too. And it’s based on the same technique (shadow play), but different style and different puppet design.

“This video is in Turkish with no subtitles, but it shows how the “Karagoz theatre” works and how it looks.”

A more contemporary artist’s work inspired me also. Kara Walker, American painter works a lot with shadows and silhouettes in her paintings and videos.

Second critique 03/13/2016

This week I have met new people, which means new interviews. I naturally need to meet with them again in order to have more footage, to have a solid story and STICK to it. My focus those previous couple weeks was on Arab students at OSU. Thanks to an event organized by Arab student union, I got to meet Dalia (Egyptian student) and Kenan (A Syrian one). They have different stories and they are now going through different issues. Which is perfect for my documentary. But I have also interviewed a member of “World relief”, an organization that works with refugees, before and after they come to Columbus.

I think that I still need other interviews (with Dalia and Kenan especially), but also with new interviewees. I’m now making a rough cut and “editing” all the interviews I have so far. So I know what’s still missing, what I need to ask or focus on in my future interviews, and if I’m telling the story the way I intended to tell it.

I’ve always thought that making a documentary is not an easy job, now am sure about it. I’ll be posting videos very soon (And on Wednesday). Till then here are some pictures.

first critique

With everything that is happening right now in the United States; demographic changes, the elections … I am particularly interested in the subject of immigration. For a country that was founded on the principle of openness and diversity, I find shocking and contradictory that some “politicians” think and say. In this short documentary, I want to meet and talk to immigrants (refugees if possible). And not only see what they think about that (the actual political climate), but to see how much they look like the image given to them.

I also want to interview people from different cultures, different backgrounds (social, religious, ethnic …). Certain people are more easily accepted than others.

I’m interested in their feelings. How they see it and how it does affect their lives. Being part of a country where they can be deported anytime. This subject doesn’t only concern the United States. It is bigger and more complex. Just because I’m here now, and I feel directly concerned when I watch or hear the news. But this is happening in Europe with the Syrian refugees, in Tunisia with the Libyan refugees… It is a global issue.

I have now met:

An American OSU teacher (Folklore/North Africa and the Arab world).

A Somali OSU student.

A French in Ohio for more than 20 years.

A representative and a volunteer in us together (an agency working with/for refugees)