I recently bought the award-winning translation of Adonis’ Selected Poems by Khaled Mattawa and have been enjoying it immensely. A little bit of searching turned up not only the above video, but 18 more such videos, all from a 2013 documentary about the Syrian-Lebanese poet from Oogland Film Productions, Land of Absence, directed by John Albert Jansen and supported in part by Poetry International. PI have created an album on Vimeo where you can watch Adonis recite all 19 poems with Mattawa’s translations in subtitles.
Here’s the description of Land of Absence:
A journey through the eventful life of the Syrian-Lebanese writer Adonis, one of the most eminent thinkers and writers of the Arab world. In Land of Absence he talks about his life and work, about Syria, the Arab world and Islam.
The Paris based Syrian-Lebanese poet Ali Ahmed Esber (1930), better known under his pen name Adonis, is sometimes called ‘the living legend of Arab literature’. For seventy years he has been writing poetry in which Arab identity is a central theme. His unique voice and independent mind has secured him a central role in the complex and multi-faceted Arab world.
In Land of Absence Adonis, in his Paris apartment, talks about his life, about Syria, about the Arab world and Islam. In his old age he is still as lucid and sharp and obstinate as ever. But first and foremost he is a great poet, who covers not only his own land, Syria, but a whole continent. ‘From writing in Arabic, you only learn that your homeland is not a place, that it can nowhere be found,’ he writes.
The DVD is still available for order.
This is In Damascus (في دمشق), a stunningly beautiful film by the Syrian filmmaker and motion graphic designer Waref Abu Quba. Here’s the description from Vimeo:
Winner | Outstanding Cinematography in the Autumn Shorts Film Festival, Somerset, Kentucky USA 2015.
• ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival Münster|Berlin – 2016
• Arab Film Festival, San Francisco, CA – 2016
• 9th Annual Houston Palestine Film Festival – 2015
• Autumn Shorts Film Festival, Somerset, Kentucky USA – 2015
Watch In Damascus VFX Breakdown and read the description for technical Information about the film on this link.
This film is about Damascus, an 11,000 years old city, the most ancient & precious of cities, set to the poetry of the world famous Palestinian poet / author Mahmoud Darwish.
More than three years have passed since the idea inception up to this moment. This project was my companion during my staying abroad, it was like a friend and an enemy at the same time, sometimes I spend hours working on it, and sometimes I leave it for months.
Now after two months of heavy work, I’ve finished it, and I would like to present it to you … I hope you like it.
Be sure to watch it on the largest screen you have.
I found the combination of found text montage and video footage shot by children simply irresistible in this author-made videopoem by Anna Banout, who says on Vimeo:
Identity. Otherness. Intolerance. Prejudice. Freedom. Integrity. As a half-Syrian girl growing up in Poland, these issues have accompanied me my whole life – I was other before I even knew the true meaning of this word. In this film I’ve combined footage from my childhood – multicultural safe place; a place where otherness didn’t really exist – with a monologue on the theme of identity. The videos were mostly taken by children – me, my sister and cousins – and I’ve decided to choose them as they captured the fragility of seemingly unimportant moments that only a child could capture. The monologue is a fake poem – it was assembled by me from variety of speeches given by poets, writers, actors, artists, activists and other inspirational people whose words I found refreshing in the identity-themed discussion.
Who do I identify myself as? Other.
An anonymous Syrian poet muses on real terror versus sleep terrors:
The same man who is trying to shoot me is me. I have no face in the dream, I am the man and me. This horror of the dream stays long.
This film is one of three shorts I made during a week in Beirut in May 2011. The films were commissioned by Reel Festivals and Creative Scotland and the remit was make a series of short films “inspired by” the festival of poets. It was an amazing week, it’s not every day that you get to meet poets from Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Scotland.
We were also meant to go to Damascus but as the political situation worsened that leg of the festival was cancelled. However, I still wanted to reflect the current situation in one of the films, so I interviewed one of the Syrian poets about his dreams. That was the starting point for this film.
Lebanese filmmaker Eliane Raheb directs. From the Free Arab website:
Since the start of the revolutions, Friday has become a symbolic day for all Arab protestors, it is the day to take down the streets and ask for changing the regime. From his refuge in Beirut, Tarek who is unable to demonstrate against the regime in Lattakia, uses his pen to write a poem, in tribute to the protesters everywhere in Syria