Thursday, April 29, 2010

Movie Review: Ajami عجمي

Ajami is an 2010 Oscar nominated Foreign Film. The Movie is directed by an Arab Israeli and an Israeli Directors. The movie was representing Israel at the Academy Awards and that was on the reasons I didn't wish it will win.... I know what some of you might think. But yes! I don't recognize Israel. And no! I'm not an anti-Semite. The other reason I didn't wish it to win is that I was rooting for the movie that actually won [El Secreto De Sus Ojos] and I do believe it deserved the winning.

Ajami is the name of a neighborhood in Jaffa where Muslim and Christian Palestinians live. The movie traces down the lives of several people living there including a storyline about a Jewish family who lost their son in  ambiguous circumstances.

The movie is one of the best I've seen this year. It is emotionally intense and keeps your heart beating quickly all through the way.
The directing of the movie is amazing. The angles that the camera were moving in is superb with the variation between intimate close ups and drowsy landscapes. 
The sounds in the movie played a vital role in creating the environment and the feeling of the story.
Music when played were an integral part of the scene creating an invisible character rather than an add-on effect.
The movie consists of several chapters.  Each chapter reveal one part of the storyline. But then repetitions of certain events happen,  though in each chapter it is shown from a different perspective and through the lives of different people. Part of the enchantment of this movie is realizing how the world is a small place and how the lives of strangers are still connected on different levels. And how at the end of the day the lives of strangers around us are the lives of ourselves too.

Another important element of this movie is the fact that most of the actors and actresses in this movie are normal people with no experience in acting what so ever. This fact gave the movie a more realistic feeling and at some points you might think it is a documentary and not a fiction.

There are parts of the storyline that I didn't like as a Palestinian myself. But from an artistic point of view away from my direct emotional attachments this movie is a great one!

One of the things that usually draw me to any movie is how human it is... this movie is very humane... dealing with human feelings of family bonds, motherhood, brotherhood and love. These feelings are recurring events in the lives of the different characters. This as well shock you as to how our lives are still similar.
On of the feelings being portrayed was the feeling of sudden shock of sadness.

== Spoiler Alert ==

This happened first for a Jewish policeman who was looking for his missing brother. When the army found the body of his brother he ran to see it. Of course the Israeli soldiers tried to stop him from approaching the discovery scene and then you see a fight between a man desperate to see his lost brother and the army who needs to keep everything in order.
Later on the movie a Palestinian guy is notified that his best friend was found dead in his apartment. The same way, he runs to his friend's place just to see him and maybe understand how come his friend is dead. But again a fight between him and the Israeli Police happens where they try to stop him and he on the other hand fight to get to the crime scene.  The sad part is, not only he was kept away from his friend's body but was then sent to jail for assaulting the police.

== End of Spoiler ==

The last scene of the movie is a masterpiece.  Sounds were the master of that scene. The shock you'll get is something that you'll have to carry with you for a while... until you'll be able to understand how can life go on for the people in the movie after that. And in a deeper sense to yourself too.

All in all [Ajami] is a movie I would surely recommend for anyone to see... a masterpiece by two young directors.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Arab Facade

In our Arab societies we still suffer from hypocrisy. The way they solve problems is by covering them and pretending they don't exist....
This is highly used in architecture for example. I remember in one of my jury session for my graduation project. An architect working with GAM made a comment which illustrate that.
In my project I designed a bridge between my project and a refugee camp just across the road from my site. She didn't like that. And told me that usually we should hide unpleasant scenes by creating walls and paint them nicely... !!!

Hide them and pretend they don't exist!!

How many times have you been confronted for being honest and not hiding your true feelings behind the screen of politeness...
You see around you smiling faces that will diss you the minute you turn your back...

All hiding behind the perfect Arab facade...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Communication Theory Assignment

This semester I'm teaching a course titled [Communication Theory] for Design and Visual Communication students. This course addresses several issues dealing with Media, Society, Mass Communication, Message Production and so on.
So for their Mid term I decided to put the theories to test by proposing an online assignment.
I asked my students to answer certain questions through creating a video response to a video I posted on our GJU.Design Channel on Ikbis....
The questions were:
Do New Media give people their Freedom or do  it control them?
Do New Media create equality or division between people?

And this is my Assignment Video... 

My students did very well... and they have responded in many different ways to the video. Some did Animation, stop motion, video montage and video logs...

Ikbis and other online sharing sites are usually and sadly banned in educational institutions in Jordan... but I wanted to defy even this reality and make others understand the power that is given [for free] to people... normal people... who have valuable things to share...
I'm really glad about my students interactions... they did engage themselves and used the new media beautifully.  Here are some samples of their work...

The rest can be seen here...

By Faris Baidon

By Rania Ghariabeh

By Natalie Beiruti

By Saja Muzaini

By Yasmin Juma'a

By Jude Kawwa

By Lian Saifi

Please complete the power of the new media by going there and commenting on their works...

Spread the love and share the power... =)

Originally posted on SABE Reconnaissance

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Me: I'm crazy! Soph, Do you think I'm crazy?
Sophie: Of course you are. But Craziness is the best thing in the world.