Beginning 2016 with a line-up that includes Miguel Gomes’ The Arabian Nights Triology and “The Films of Jean Epstein,” the Harvard Film Archive has curated “Lost Films and Mediations,” a series of seven-award winning films by Lebanese directors/producers Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige. The film retrospective, running from February 12th through 20th, will accompany the directors’ exhibit installation “I Must First Apologize…” to follow on February 19th at MIT’s List Center for the Visual Arts and through April 17th. These presentations aim to emphasize the engaging politics of Hadjithomas and Joreige, who both occupy spaces of negotiation with their work. “They are artists of the moving image,” HFA Programmer Daniel Pendleton writes, “whose work exists at the intersection of cinema and the art world, as well as that of documentary and fiction, just as their native Lebanon exists at the heart of Mediterranean geography—where the Arab world meets Europe—and at the intersection of the urgency of the present and the weight of colonial history.”
Inspiration for Hadjithomas and Joreige’s oeuvre rests in the end of the civil-war in Lebanon during the early 1990s and its devastating aftermath. In the film A Perfect Day (Yowman akhar) (2005)—earning them the Don Quixote Award and the FIPRESCI Prize at Switzerland’s Locarno International Film Festival—a woman waits for her husband’s return years after he has gone missing after the war. In the short Rounds (Barmeh) (2001), a man drives around Beirut, ruminating on modernization and the changing face of the war-torn city. The films Khiam 2000–2007 (2007) and The Lost Film (El film el mafkoud) (2003) respectively utilize documentary technique to relay interviews of ex-detainees kept at the Khiam prison during Lebanon’s colonial period and the directors’ hunt in Yemen for the only lasting print of their first film Around the Pink House (1999). In addition to these works which are to be screened as part of the HFA series the directors’ photo and video installations have also received several acknowledgments, including the Abraaj Captial Art Prize in 2012, and have been displayed in solo and group exhibitions at Centre Pompidou in Paris, MoMA in San Francisco, and New Museum in New York.
While this month’s series seeks to stress the limits and potential of contemporary visual media, it will also call attention to the ways in which the world of Arab cinema and visual art has been transformed by these two film makers contributions. As Pendleton states, “The work of Hadjithomas and Joreige also exists as part of the recent international turn toward the archive as both a source of images and a resource to be investigated.” With an interest regarding contested image-artifacts, the HFA is pleased to bring the “Lost Films and Mediations” series to the public. Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige are scheduled to attend an HFA event at 7PM on Friday, February 19th.