The Breakdown: Faissal El-Malak — “Hallowed Threads”

From RAK to DRAK. (Supplied)
Updated 28 November 2018

The Breakdown: Faissal El-Malak — “Hallowed Threads”

  • Palestinian designer talks us through the piece "From RAK to DRAK"
  • He looked at an advertising and calligraphy shop as a theme

DUBAI: The Dubai-based Palestinian designer talks us through the piece he created for the exhibition “From RAK to DRAK” as part of Dubai Design Week.
Design Ras Al Khor invited three designers to investigate the community of Ras Al Khor. My task was to look at an advertising and calligraphy shop as a theme to respond to.

I found a tiny shop — Al Arif Advertising and Calligraphy — but they didn’t have a calligrapher; they basically use software. So I was sitting there trying to get some idea of what I could do, and I looked up and saw these religious stickers — ‘Dua’ stickers — very brightly colored, on vinyl, and with a really interesting Islamic design. For me, they were very nostalgic, because if you grew up in the region they are part of your visual language. And it was very interesting to see these designs that originated centuries ago, and have trickled down to this little print shop in this industrial area of Dubai to be printed on plastic. That was an interesting journey. So I wanted to use those designs, but in my own way.
Also, I recently came back from a two-week workshop for Gulf-based designers at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. When I was there, I saw this sakkos — an Orthodox Church vestment from 17th century Iran. And the dialogue between cultures in that piece was interesting to me. So I replicated that garment, but using my traditional artisanal fabric as a base. I applied roughly the same design placement, but with modern interpretations inspired by the stickers. And it was all done using embroidery, because the whole point was to create something handmade.

It’s signed too, in a discreet way, as artisans would, traditionally. I worked with a calligrapher to create the signatures; you have my name; Adnan, the embroiderer; Ibrahim, the calligrapher; and Al Arif, the shop.
With fashion design, you really have to shape your designs in a commercial way. So it sometimes ends up watering down to something that’s not as spectacular as your original idea. Which is fine. That’s the nature of the market. But projects like these are an amazing opportunity to just create for the sake of creating; to really work on the concept without thinking about whether or not it will sell. It was a lot of fun. And it reminded me why I’m doing what I do and why I love it.


‘Noura’s Dream’ becomes nightmare dilemma in this raw tale

Hend Sabry plays the lead role in ‘Noura’s Dream.’ (Supplied)
Updated 16 October 2019

‘Noura’s Dream’ becomes nightmare dilemma in this raw tale

CHENNAI: Hinde Boujemaa’s “Noura’s Dream,” which premiered at the recent Toronto International Film Festival and later featured at El Gouna Film Festival, saw the movie’s protagonist, Hend Sabry (Noura), clinch best actress award at the latter.

The director, who also wrote the script, tackles an unusual dilemma for a woman being pulled in three different directions by her husband, lover and three young children, two of them girls.

It is certainly not an easy task to lead a story such as this – emotionally complicated and set in Tunisia – to a closure.

In an interview with Variety, Boujemaa said: “There have been movies about adultery, but very few of them have been wholly empathetic to the woman. There’s often a kind of moral judgement attached. I wanted to make a film without any hint of moralizing.”

“Noura’s Dream” opens with a romantic scene. Working in a prison laundry, she is seen on her phone talking to her lover, handsome garage mechanic Lassaad (Hakim Boumsaoudi), and the two are all set to marry, her divorce just days away.

Her husband, Jamel (Lotfi Abdelli), is in jail having been caught committing petty crimes but when he is freed early after a presidential pardon, things get messy.

The director tackles an unusual dilemma for a woman being pulled in three different directions by her husband, lover and three young children. (Supplied) 

Boujemaa’s film has the feel of a Ken Loach (British director) movie, with its take on the predicament of the working class. There is a certain raw quality about “Noura’s Dream,” devoid of the polish and psychological complexities of “Marriage Story” (screened at Venice), in which auteur Noah Baumbach portrays the pain of a marital split with a degree of levity and sophistication.

A similar approach and treatment cannot be taken with Noura’s story, which is set in a very different kind of social environment that gives little freedom or equality to a woman. Take, for instance, the scene in which Noura’s defense lawyer, a woman, makes her client feel small and guilty, reminding her of the injustice and harm a split would do to her children.

Boujemaa’s film has the feel of a Ken Loach (British director) movie. (Supplied) 

Sabry brings to the fore the quandary of Noura, who is completely lost.

Should she go ahead with the divorce and marry Lassaad, a union that could mean abandoning her children who need their mother? Or should she stick with her wayward husband? There are no easy answers.