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Review Of The Film A1 By Critic Salah Duhni

Muhammad Ali Adeeb and his Experimental Film:


A new name in the world of TV and cinema, Muhammad Ali Adeeb. We watched his 12-episode series "A Seat in the Park" written by Marwan Naseh, where we discovered a new talent that wants to be different. A director who is not satisfied by the written text, he creates and adds. He does not transmit the word to a picture. He may conceive the word, or, let me say, the scene, as a state of colour, sound and movement, lending it an atmosphere that swims between consciousness and unconsciousness by the act of ascending from physical existence to spiritual roving.

Has the effort of Mhd. Ali Adeeb contributed to make "A Seat in the Park" a success or a failure main-stream wise? This is another issue, which will not be discussed here.

The director introduces to us a new work titled "A1". He calls it a film. It lasts for around 60 minutes. This time, the work does not come through TV screen, but in a special show at Goethe Institute. The film is a special, a very special, work, as a production in the climate of Film/TV investment; it is unique, brave and unprecedented.

Let us imagine a film of such length that disrespects, for the first time in Syria, all production standards; cinema and TV production is governed by supply-and-demand, sale-and-purchase values and box office laws. A film that does not tell a given story that the viewer watches relaxing in his comfortable seat, and relying on a writer and a director to take him by hand to one of this life's stories that satisfies, entertains and excite. Far from that, far from traditional cinema, the new director, Mhd. Ali Adeeb, and the new producucer introduce to us what we believed to be impossible in the Syrian production and investment conditions, a film whose brochure says that it "reflects a special point of view of creation, life, death, and other human views that the camera approaches in an abstract language."

This introduction alone implies the horizons of its ambitions, as well as its constraints. The viewer stands against a challenging film that he is not used to. It asks him to remove of his head the accumulation of thousands of previous films, to take a confrontation stand, to accept provocation, to be prepared for a fight with a nervous and vagrant picture.

A1 is a film with an annoying title, where the content takes it everywhere. It does not stop at a single idea or state. A wave after wave, it presents minor stories, not linked to each other by a line, but coexist within a matter of colour and sound that clouds, spreads out, wakes up, clears up, with music that, though appraisable, was prevailing and higher than necessary.

Mhd. Ali Adeeb's thoughts flow in the environment of the Damascene society, the traditional one in particular, which is a patriarchal society, where the mother's personality is concealed, and she lives under her weakness and ignorance. The son is subordinated. The Father's death is a state of tenderness and freedom. Here, we see one of the most beautiful, if we can say that, cases of death introduced by cinema. Many pictures coexist in the film, the same as the day-to-day life of a given society: shyness of revealed love, or of longing for love; implicit and explicit expression of sexual relationships, in every occasion and by all images and forms; the gestures of women's bathhouse; the non-equivalent marriage relationships where concordance no long exist; resorting to conjuration and magic, which fails in the end and the young wife breaks away, while the subordinated son returns to the yard.

Points and situations run with and without apparent link, within a cinema work done with love. It does not seek the viewer's content, but rather invites him to follow it, not only the regular viewer, but the most open-minded one as well. A1 is a storming experimental film with broad ambitions; it has widely spread horizons, but it lacks some further control and coherence to be more persuasive.

Finally, I believe that Mhd. Ali Adeeb needs big courage and patience if he wants to continue the way he has started. It seems that he lacks none of them: neither courage nor patience.


Salah Duhni

Film Critic