Cinéma du Réel - International documentary film festival
Alazeef
DR

Alazeef

Saif Alsaegh

2016 / U.S.A. / 21 min

i Sunday 26 March 18H40 Luminor
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Original Version Subtitled in French and English

Shown with :
Ala hafet alhayat by Yaser Kassab
i Wednesday 29 March 19H30 Centre Wallonie Bruxelles
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Original Version Subtitled in French and English

Shown with :
Ala hafet alhayat by Yaser Kassab

A minimalist collage with a rich sound track, Alazeef (“spirits of the desert” in Arabic) plunges the spectator into the stream of consciousness of an Iraqi soldier, one week before the Desert Storm operation of 1991 (Saif Alsaegh’s year of birth). In reply to the fragmentation of Baghdad, which resembles an “asthmatic woman”, come the voice-over fears of the unknown soldier – a generic figure of a sacrificed youth. The simpler the image (a small plastic G.I. is repeatedly buried then taken out of the sand in a coloured interplay of light) and the more poetic and richer the monologue, the more cinema appears to be returned to its foundations. Inflamed to the point of surrealism, the mix of metal guitars, Edith Piaf’s “Le Noël de la rue”, Bugs Bunny and the beautiful chanting of the singer Filfel Gourgy fittingly reflects the contradictory whirlwind that sweeps up the narrator. “I was told that the Americans were my enemies. But I love them… Batman, Superman, Marlboro…” The shiny skin of a model dressed up as a cowgirl on a Playboy cover embodies the desirability of the Other who must imperatively be reviled, just as tea and not wine must imperatively be sipped. This story of a literally hellish sensorial experience slides towards a sort of elegy of protest, a modest yet provocative resistance. (Charlotte Garson)

Production / Print source: Saif Alsaegh

Saif Alsaegh is a filmmaker and a poet in both English and Arabic. He is originally from Baghdad and currently lives and works in the United States. His volume of poetry Iraqi Headaches was published in 2013. He directs short experimental films in collaboration with his brother, Fady Alsaegh. They are screened in both America and Europe. His works include Motorola Jockeys (2016), Bukhari Chant (2016) and A Dance (2015).