Heroes of the resistance
French DVD label Lowave makes up for the confounding dearth of non-narrative, non-mainstream works by Middle Eastern and North African filmmakers in stateside art theaters with this compilation of eight short, highly diverse experimental films.
The collection is based on the premise that—per the enclosed booklet’s Gilles Deleuze epigraph—“creating is not communicating, it’s resisting.” Ironically, the opening film is less a gesture of defiance than of assimilation: Franco-Algerian Zoulikha Bouabdellah’s jokey but pointed Dansons features a folk dancer shimmying happily to “La Marseillaise.” Allahu Akbar, from Iraqi Usama Alshaibi, animates traditional Islamic geometric patterns to equally whimsical effect, but the result is inventive rather than flatly didactic.
Didacticism reigns in Jayce Salloum’s Untitled Part 3B: (As If) Beauty Never Ends … , an overreaching if effective account of a demolished Palestinian village with a capacity for abrupt visual shocks. Taysir Batniji’s wry slideshow Transit and Ca Sera Beau From Beirut with Love by Waël Noureddine—the comp’s longest and most disturbing piece—also skew the travelogue-doc format, but the real standouts here flout all convention. Frédérique Devaux’s K3 (Les Femmes) captures the daily drudgery of Kabyle women in Algeria, but its layered soundtrack and color-washed frames are buoyant and sublime. At the other end of the spectrum, the nightmarish Dieu Me Pardonne by Moroccan Mounir Fatmi is a sonically adventurous visual collage that feels like a history lesson of some disaster that’s yet to occur, while Lamya Hussain Gargash’s deeply enigmatic Wet Tiles offers a final grace note that’s deceptively simple, lyrical and sad.
Resistance(s) includes filmed interviews with the represented filmmakers, neatly counterbalancing their largely wordless works and accentuating the project’s overall dedication to letting the region’s artists speak for themselves.