On Arab Shorts
Everything is centred on "curated programmes". A total of 19 curators make their selections and present them once a year. This leads to lines of meaning and possible interpretations. The movie work is not merely presented but given context. Under the umbrella of "Arab Shorts", there is a wide range that spans everything from narrative short films to "video art".
The contents shown are unmasked insights like the social-criticism kaleidoscope from a phone shop or the claustrophobic elevator short movie where the lives of women are presented with gross prison metaphors. The other end of the range offers enigmatic desert flight pictures, an "aesthetic of disappearance" or "broken films" that toss the chaos of war onto the screen in random, dissonant fragments, sarcastically greeting from Beirut with love. In between, there were some remarkable treasures, including a wonderful reminiscence of Eisenstein's "The Battleship Potyomkin", re-created in Tunis; an ironic self-portrait called "Arafat & I"; a film made of US newspaper photographs on Iraq; a sensitive study on growing up and the path of moving "step by step" into a harsh, broken society.
The "Arab Shorts" films offer new and unusual images. There are understandable "messages" and "cryptic" masks. The code of art, according to Süddeutsche Zeitung, "(presents) an Arab world as it is: human and diverse". TV conveys moving images of the fight for freedom and shocking violence into our everyday lives, showing both a lot and little at once. We are certain of one thing in the cultural exchange with the Arab world: We do not know enough of each other.
The artistic manager of "Arab Shorts" is curator and film-maker Marcel Schwierin. He is a co-founder of Werkleitz Biennale and the internet database for experimental film & video art cinovid.org.
Note: In the series "Vor dem Sturm", the Arsenal in Berlin shows independent movies from the Arab countries from 17-22 June, offering uncommon and unusual insights into the time before the "Arab Spring". See the project highlights here.