For supporters of the Islamic Republic, it is the Iran-Iraq war, and not the 1979 revolution, that evokes the true spirit of the Islamic Republic. In 1979, the plethora of political groups that poured into the streets was united in the desire to get rid of the US-backed Shah, but divided as to the shape of post-revolutionary society. Only after the outbreak of the “imposed war” with Iraq (1980-1988) were Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and his fellow clerics able to consolidate the Islamic Republic as a state. The war allowed the regime to imprison the opposition for reasons of “national security” and to mobilize the population in defense of the revolution as the regime defined it.
Yesterday’s piece by Ursula Lindsey, entitled “Art in Egypt's Revolutionary Square.” is a very astute and measured account of the art that has emerged in Egypt, in the wake of, and inspired by, the momentous events in Tahrir over the last year. It is a very mixed picture, but one of the projects that Lindsey cites with approval is the collective Mosireen. Here’s what she has to say about them:
Shadows Over the Future, A film by Wolfgang Bergmann. 1985. 92 mins, 16mm.
Last Exit: Berlin, A film by Marilyn Gaunt. 1988. 28 mins. video.
My friend Jacques got as far as a screenplay when he died. He was Palestinian (Armenian) from Jerusalem, a photographer by trade, and after his family moved from occupation to Australia, Jacques made his way to the States on a tourist visa. Settling in New York, he found work in a series of custom photo labs where employers were more than willing to overlook his illegal alien status if he was willing to take the midnight shift. At the last job, there was a vague promise that something could be done to get him a green card; in the meantime, he lived his inverted life on the margins of the margins.
The Palestinian human rights monitoring organization, Al-Haq/Law in the Service of Man, the West Bank affiliate of the Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists, marked the first anniversary of the intifada with a comprehensive report on Israel’s violations of human rights in its effort to quell the Palestinian uprising. Punishing a Nation: Human Rights Violations During the Palestinian Uprising, December 1987-December 1988 (Ramallah, PO Box 1413, West Bank, via Israel: Al-Haq, 1988; 355 pages) is a meticulously documented compendium based mostly on sworn affidavits collected by al-Haq’s field workers, five of whom were under administrative detention at the time of publication.
Aqabat Jaber: Passing Through. Directed by Eyal Sivan. Produced and distributed by Dune Vision, 1987.
Rissala… Min Zamen al-Harb (Letter from a Time of War). Directed by Borhan Alaouie. Produced and distributed by France Media, 1986.
Zahrat al-Kindoul: Women of South Lebanon. Directed by Jean Chamoun and Mai Masri. Produced by MTC Lebanon, 1986. Distributed in the US by Camera News Inc.
Three recent documentaries, one dealing with the Palestinians and two with the war in Lebanon, were among the films screened at the Cinema du Reel, an international festival of ethnographic and sociological films, held in Paris this March.
Beyond the Walls, directed by Uri Barbash. Written by Benny Barbash, Eran Pries and Uri Barbash. Produced by Rudy Cohen. 103 minutes. Color. 35 mm. Distributed by Warner Brothers’ Globe Exports.