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Sat, March 31, 3:00pm

Films by Omar Amiralay

Michigan Theater (Screening Room)

Three films by Omar Amiralay (1944–2011), Syria’s greatest documentary filmmaker, presented by Irina Leimbacher. 

The program includes Tabaq el-Sardin (A Plate of Sardines, 1997), Amiralay's powerful reflection on personal and political memory; along with two of his earliest films,  Film-Muhawalah ‘An Sadd al-Furat’ (Film-Essay on the Euphrates Dam, 1970) and al- Dajaj (The Chickens, 1977) - essays on the government’s failure to provide basic amenities to the poor. Amiralay’s new approach to documentary filmmaking gradually became recognized in the Arab world and Europe. His cinema has become canon for generations of documentary filmmakers in the Arab world.

"Speaking of the nation and its upheavals, it pains me to inform you that I live in a country steadfastly marching on its hooves to its own demise, after it was betrayed by its rulers, deserted by its brainpower and abandoned by its intellectuals, thinkers and artists [...]   All my films were conceived out of a desire for a dialogue with life and people, wherein questions and doubts were raised, and characters and events reclaimed their history, resurrected from obsolescence, forgetting or denial." - from Were It Not for Cinema, an essay by Omar Amiralay


Films Showing:

Film-Essay on the Euphrates Dam (Film-Muhawalah ‘An Sadd al-Furat)

(Omar Amiralay, (1944 - 2011), 1970) 12 min

Amiralay’s first short film is an enthusiastic and lyrical depiction of the Ba’athist regime’s construction of the Assad dam on the Euphrates River. Its cinematic exuberance with regard to large-scale...

The Chickens (‘al-Dajaj’)

(Omar Amiralay, (1944 - 2011), 1977) 40 min

Amiralay’s third documentary was produced by and for Syrian state television, though it was subsequently banned. Its focus was the new chicken farming industry in a pilot village in the...

A Plate of Sardines (Tabaq el-Sardin)

(Omar Amiralay, (1944 - 2011), 1997) 17 min

“The first time I heard of Israel, I was in Beirut, and the conversation was about a plate of sardines. I was six years old, Israel was two.” In this...