Footage filmed in New York and Cairo creates a meditation on transnational existence in And on a Different Note. Interior scenes shot on 16mm film in both cities unfold to the sound of continually streaming Egyptian political talk shows and are accompanied by text superimposed on the screen, whose placement evokes concrete poetry as much as subtitles. At times the English words translate the exchanges heard in Arabic; at others they bring the viewer into the director’s interior world through social media exchanges, personal writings, and literary references.
By subtly eroding the function of the cinematic subtitle, Hassan creates layers of meaning across the film’s languages. The distance between image and sound finds a parallel in the rich contrast between the banality of the static everyday scenes and the turmoil of the post-revolutionary Egyptian politics evoked. The film supersedes national borders, revealing both an existential fatigue in light of politics and its twenty-four-hour news cycle and a guarded playfulness at having—through the cinematic process—carved out time shielded from it.
Gallery label from Inbox: Mohammad Shawky Hassan, 2016.