February 18th, 2003
El film el mafkoud
The Lost Film


Investigating the disappearance of a print of their feature “Around the Pink House,” Lebanese filmmakers Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige open a window on the minimal role movies and photos play in parts of the Arab world. On the trail of the print in Yemen, they try to discover who was interested enough in their film to steal it. Their conclusions are humorous, enlightening and a little sad. Above its simple structure, this curiosity has a lot to say under the surface and should be a popular fest pick.

The directors never film themselves, training their camera on the landscape and faces they meet. Though their guide considers movies a sin, they find an open-air cinema playing “Terminal Force” and Brigitte Nielson pics. Censorship has put most films on the black list, filmmaking has stopped and photographs are rarities. But the two stumble onto some street photographers who do double-image portraits in front of exotic backdrops of the Sydney opera house and the Taj Mahal. Soon afterward, they find film cans recycled as cooking pans, and begin to suspect why their film was stolen.

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