Mounira al Solh introduces May Kassem’s Nourhane, a Child’s Dream (2016):
“I often felt the generation of our grandmothers more defined by their ‘fight for their freedom’ than that of their daughters. Perhaps because then the war came, which drew attention to other things. In my family too, the grandmothers have always been my role models.
Watching this work, it is hard not to be fascinated by Nourhane's courage. May portrays her grandmother in the kitchen, performing in the domestic setting, in her home clothes, cooking; far from a grandiose stage.
The work moves from this sphere of the domestic and nostalgia for the good old days, to musical and film productions of Egypt and the wider Arab world. May brings the viewer into Nourhane’s world and sits us in front of an old television to watch the golden years that seem ever more distant and unattainable today in our disintegrating Lebanon and various other Arab countries.
One can imagine the consequences the artistic path had on her personal life as a woman! Consequences that we are still experiencing and going through in Lebanon, at least in terms of how hard it was for women from May's generation and mine to be taken seriously as artists, and how ironic it is to now hear that people finally want to support and even demand more from us, women artists, granddaughters, mothers and those of us who are gender-neutral and of colour!”
About the work:
Nourhane was a singer and actress active between the 1940s and the 1960s. However, in the mid-1960s, she abruptly ended her career. From that point on, she never sang, and she never spoke about her past. Her granddaughter went into the world of filmmaking and at the age of 21 discoveed her grandmother's past. In this work Kassel undergoes a quest to find out as much as possible about her grandmother, and in particular the reason she ended her career at its height. Layers upon layers of Nourhan’s story emerges through interviews, voiceovers, drawings, and animated sequences in a film centred around passion and love.
This film has screened at film festivals across the world, including Cairo Women's Film Festival (2017); Monthly Film Festival, Copenhagen (2017); Los Angeles CineFest (2017); Martinique Film Festival (2016), TrueDoc Documentary Film Festival, Kiev, Ukraine (2016); Sydney World Film Festival (2016), and Hong Kong ArtHouse Film Festival (2016).
The film has been awarded First Cinema Prize, Chouftouhonna's Festival of Feminist Art, Tunis (2016) and Best Documentary at the Phenicien Film Festival, Lyon, France(2017).
Nourhane, a Child’s Dream (2016)
Documentary | 72 minutes
Arabic with English Subtitles
This screening is part of the Genealogies in the Middle East and Latin America project, which explores historical and contemporary relationships between artists from these two regions. It unfolds along narratives revealed by the artists' personal accounts that provide critical alternative perspectives and insights by decentralising dominant narratives, schools and paradigms produced and affirmed in the West.
Sharjah Art Foundation presents a series of online film screenings jointly organised with Anna Goetz, who initiated this collaborative project featuring 21 artists and collectives from the Middle East and Latin America working in film and video.