Regional pop-culture highlights from a poetic take on Lebanon’s protests

Regional pop-culture highlights from a poetic take on Lebanon’s protests
The Palestinian poet and filmmaker Hind Shoufani shot a short film on Lebanon’s ongoing protests. (Supplied)
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Updated 20 December 2019

Regional pop-culture highlights from a poetic take on Lebanon’s protests

Regional pop-culture highlights from a poetic take on Lebanon’s protests
  • Regional pop-culture highlights, from a poetic take on Lebanon’s protests to a celebration of multiculturalism

Hind Shoufani

“We Take Back Mountains”

The Palestinian poet and filmmaker says she didn’t actually plan on making the short film she recently released on Lebanon’s ongoing protests. She was actually in Beirut to visit friends, but as the impact of the uprising became clearer, she says, “The film wanted to make itself. I say that somewhat in whimsy, but there is truth in the urgency with which the situation on the ground insisted on being documented, conversed with in poetry, and shared with the wider community.”

The result is an atmospheric short film of scenes from the Lebanese capital’s streets, “manically filmed” over a few days. “Mostly, the energy of the beautiful protestors in Lebanon was infectious, and so wonderful to experience. I felt so proud and happy to reclaim the empty abandoned streets of downtown Beirut, suddenly alive and thriving with thousands of voices. I have witnessed that area change and develop (for the worse) since the mid Nineties and it was a pleasure to stand in solidarity with tens of thousands of people, insisting the city was theirs,” Shoufani says. “I have been waiting a lifetime for the Lebanese people to rise up against the criminal institutions and political parties that subjugate them. This is a historic moment, and one of the most beautiful expressions of looking for a life of dignity I have ever seen. It is hard to encapsulate decades of frustration, a desire for a humane and secular uprising, and the urgent feeling of love we felt on those streets, roaming with our camera. I am humbled and have learnt so much from the astounding bravery of so many young Lebanese people, still resisting on the streets today. I hope the film can be a small homage to that.”

The film is overdubbed with one of Shoufani’s own poems. “I wanted to make sure the film transcended the documentary genre and I didn’t want to use too much music over an assembly of shots — I wanted to give the sound on the streets some room to exist as well,” she explains. “So, a poem needed to be written, because I also felt that as a woman who has loved and lost so much in Lebanon, I needed to speak to the crowds demanding their rights, and to the politicians robbing the place blind.   

“Some people educate others on economics, some lead court cases to bring about justice, some clean up the streets from the debris of a revolution, some sing, some dance, and some organize lectures,” she continues. “I make films and write poems, and I hope there is a place for that in an ongoing uprising for dignity and human rights.”

Vandalye

‘The Ride’

The UAE-based trio released a chaotic video for their latest track, in which the three members — frontman Scott Attew and twins Thomas and Lucas McCone — are subjected to increasingly vicious abuse by a mysterious bunch of gangsters in a warehouse, from a few face slaps to having their heads shaved to being bombarded by paintball pellets. It’s a striking visual accompaniment to this uptempo but melancholic track.

Jihane Bougrine

‘Farha’

The Moroccan singer just dropped her first single for Universal Music ahead of her album release next year. “Farha,” according to a press release, is built around rhythms with hints of Latin, jazz and pop, and “expresses the artist’s understanding of happiness in all its different forms — an ode to joy, but also a reminder that happiness is around the corner each time we forget to smile.” The video was filmed in a traditional house in Bougrine’s hometown of Rabat.

Carl & The Reda Mafia

‘What About You’

This Dubai-based funk-rock outfit consists of four members from four different continents, and this new single “represents the band members’ daily lives and how we take things for granted,” according to a press release. If you haven’t heard the group before, then this is a good starting point — a funky uptempo track with a message: “hope for a better future, better decisions and better lifestyles.”