The Chickens (‘al-Dajaj’), 1977, 40 min

Omar Amiralay, (1944 - 2011)

Documentary, Historic Film, Special Presentations

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 Syrian steppe. In fact, it documents not so much the chicken farms themselves (although the creatures feature in a number of metaphorically loaded shots), but the government economic policies that were leading to the abandonment of artisanal trades in favor of industrial egg production. With government subventions, the chicken farms briefly burgeon and just a quickly meet their demise. Set in the photogenic village of Sadad, where various faiths and cultures mix, the film’s exquisite black & white cinematography and unforgiving montage make it a masterpiece of mordant social commentary.

"With this film, vanity overpowered ideology. […] Sarcasm became itself the ideological framework. I no longer viewed people and life from the purview of philosophy. I used the cast of irony to represent symbols of authority, religion and backwardness. I quickly became aware of what I was doing and reclaimed the philosophical essence of irony, never sparing anyone, neither authority nor people.” - Omar Amiralay


Directed by Omar Amiralay ((1944 - 2011))


Saturday, March 31 3:00pm

Films by Omar Amiralay

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

Michigan Theater (Screening Room)