Asmahan (2005) 21min · Short · 1 January 2005
Asmahan is a film poem about the famous Syrian singer of the same name. The film is made up of four parts: love, death, love, and death. Each part follows one of the two songs Asmahan sings in the film which are used as a structural motif throughout. Like her musical notations, every shot is connected to every other shot. Nearly every shot contains Asmahan (she is the only actor in the film who appears to be talking), which is meant to create an obsessive relationship with the image reminding us of the interplay of voyeurism and exhibitionism that makes the actor that we see on the screen dream like, especially when she also sees us. This dream logic suggests that there is a hidden life, which exists through pictures, lurking in even the most superficial and trite of B-films. It is this fragment-like wholeness that is in a sense the structure of the film. As in a dream, Asmahan's actions are accentuated through a number of strategies: slowing down of the cinematic image, creating a montage of gestures, making familiar objects look estranged, repeating shots which look the same but are in fact different in their temporal and spatial sense, and the use of filters to transform her look into a romantic and haunting one (Garbo-like), but also an assertive one. - Written by Hisham Bizri
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