Live Ideas: Films by Maha Maamoun & Larissa Sansour

New York Live Arts Theater

An exclusive screening featuring acclaimed work and US premieres by two of the most unique filmmakers of the region. Combining experimental film technique with narrative structures that question collective memory in the face of ongoing challenges to future-focused ideals, these filmmakers continue to generate powerful visions for the future of cinema.
Films by Maha Maamoun (Egypt)

2026 (2015, 10 minutes)
Shooting Stars Remind Me of Eavesdroppers (2013, 5 minutes)
Night Visitor: The Night of Counting the Years (2011, 9 minutes)

With her films, Maamoun trawls through the cultural imagination in search of historiographical framing in which to set the present. Maamoun’s works indicate that the question of whether art can step out of the symbolic circle in order to have an effect in the world is posed incorrectly: it’s all about the how. Art is opening out almost of its own accord when Maamoun takes seriously symbolic representations and has them clash with one another. In this process ruptures are caused in the representations, enabling the painful points of current questions to be intuited.

Domestic Tourism II (2009, 62 minutes)
In both Domestic Tourism II, Mammoun’s interest is in the generic visual representations of Cairo in a broad sense, and where this intersects with, and is negotiated by, personal experiences. These digitally manipulated images present more complicated, less-sellable and slightly uncomfortable images that comment on the Egypt consumed locally. Tourism in this context refers to a mode of navigating a place and consumption of a locale, whether by a foreigner or a local, and the title, Domestic Tourism, refers to both an intimate and distant relationship to one’s environment.

Films by Larissa Sansour (Jerusalem/Denmark)

Nation Estate (2012, 9 minutes)
Nation Estate is a 9-minute sci-fi short offering a clinically dystopian, yet humorous approach to the deadlock in the Middle East. With its glossy mixture of computer generated imagery, live actors and an arabesque electronica soundtrack, Nation Estate explores a vertical solution to Palestinian statehood. In Sansour’s film, Palestinians have their state in the form of a single skyscraper: the Nation Estate. One colossal high-rise houses the entire Palestinian population – now finally living the high life.

Feast of the Inhabitants (2012, 16 minutes)
In Sansour’s humorous take on the relation between food, politics and cultural identity, the natives are indeed restless. Gathered around a painterly selection of regional delicacies, a group of omnivorous locals host a lively debate covering topics ranging from the best season for lamb’s meat to the multiple Catch 22’s of occupation by a power routinely classifying the Palestinians simply as the ‘Inhabitants of the Territories’ – granting them a more anonymous and legally obscure status than ‘citizens’ or ‘subjects’.