Omar Amiralay and Hala Alabdalla present a screening of the documentary Nuron wa Thilal (Light and Shadows, The Last of the Pioneers: Nazih Shahbandar) (1991), which Amiralay codirected with Mohammad Malas and Oussama Mohammad. This portrait of Nazih Shahbandar illuminates his role as a pioneer of Arab cinema production in the 1930s and 1940s. He wrote scripts, built sets, set up a studio fitted with film equipment that was almost entirely of his own fabrication, produced and directed the first Syrian film with sound, and chased his dream of making a 3-D film. This documentary is an ode both to the man and to early Arab cinema, and it provides a fitting prelude to a conversation with two of the most influential and inventive artists of the region during recent decades.
Amiralay was a driving force in the establishment of the Arab Film Institute, a collaborative project uniting young and independent filmmakers in the region that organizes workshops and offers other support. His films have earned a number of awards worldwide, and his cinema has become canon for generations of documentary filmmakers in the Arab world. As the general director of Ramad Films, Amiralay’s France-based production company, Hala Alabdalla has executive-produced many of Amiralay’s films. I Am the One Who Carries Flowers to Her Grave is her directorial debut.
In the Film exhibitions Modern Mondays and Mapping Subjectivity: Experimentation in Arab Cinema from the 1960s to Now, Part I
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