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Curated by Hind Mezaina

October 13-18: Online screening on

Free / $5 Suggested Donation

Available Worldwide

October 12: In-person screening at Alliance Française (Dubai) 
Ticket Price 35.00 AED
Book your ticket here

The past haunts the present in this film program about photography and cinema, featuring four short films by Hisham Bizri, Akram Zaatari, Meyar Al Roumi, and Joana Hadjithomas/Khalil Joriege. These films delve into a distant or recent past and their consequences today on what was and what could have been.

WHAT EXISTED YESTERDAY MIGHT DISAPPEAR TOMORROW is co-presented by ArteEast a and Tribe.. This screening is part of the legacy program Unpacking the ArteArchive, which preserves and presents over 17 years of film and video programming by ArteEast. In addition to the online screening on from October 13-18, the program will be screened in-person at Alliance Française in Dubai on October 12, with an introduction and post screening discussion with Hind Mezaina and Nezar Andary, filmmaker, professor of cinema and literature, and curator of film and book festivals.


ASMAHAN, Hisham Bizri, 2006, Lebanon, 21 min,

No dialogue

“Reediting a 1944 Egyptian film (Gharam wa Intiqam / Passion and Revenge) starring this liberated-for-her-era Syrian actress-singer to center his 21-minute film poem around her, Bizri replaces the original narrative with sequences that show her gestures, or suggest the actress’s life. Sometimes she seems passively acted upon, but more often she appears to stage-manage the action, the universe seeming to revolve around her.” – Fred Camper, Chicago, June 13, 2006

HER + HIM VAN LEO, Akram Zaatari, 2001, Lebanon, 32 min

Arabic, English, French with English subtitles

A portrait of a studio photographer, Her + Him VAN LEO also examines the photography of the 1940s and 50s from a critical perspective rather than a nostalgic one.

This documentary utilizes traditional portrait photography and video in a dialogue between two media: crafted black and white print, and the electronically colored and manipulated screen. The dialog comments on the transformations in art practices and terminologies, and evokes some of the social/urban/political transformations that took place in Egypt over 50 years of its recent history.

A SILENT CINEMA / SINEMA SAMITA, Meyar Al Roumi, 2001, Syria/France, 29 min

Arabic, French with English subtitles

Meyar Al Roumi returns to his native Damascus, eager to start making films, but he is censored. He draws inspiration from it to paint a portrait of the Syrian filmmakers most affected by censorship.

THE LOST FILM / EL FILM EL MAFKOUD, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, 2003, Lebanon/France, 43 min

Arabic with English subtitles

“It all began with an e-mail: On May 22, 2000 a print of our first feature film, Around the Pink House, disappeared in Yemen under strange circumstances. It was a historic day, the tenth anniversary of the country’s reunification of South and North.

We make films in an area of the world that is barely interested in cinema and rarely encourages any images apart from the official ones, and so we were somewhat surprised by what had happened: who in Yemen was interested enough in our first feature film to steal a copy weighing 35 kilograms?

A year later, on the 11th anniversary of the reunification, we took a plane to Sana’a to trace the missing print. We visited the cinemas of Sana’a and Aden where the film was shown; we went to the Film Archives where the reels had been stored for the night; we drove along the same road taken by the bus carrying our film on May 22, the day it disappeared… We stuck as closely as possible to the trail of the missing print.” – Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige


About the filmmakers:

Hisham Bizri is a film director, writer, and producer born in Beirut, Lebanon. He started working in cinema as an assistant director to Raúl Ruiz in NYC and to Miklós Jancsó in Budapest. He has directed 29 short films and has written a number of screenplays adapted from Gilgamesh, Jorge Luis Borges, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Al-Tayyib Salih, and James Joyce. In 2021, he directed Elektra, his first feature film which he also wrote and co-produced with Mirna Shbaro in Beirut.

Bizri studied filmmaking in the US and taught at Boston, MIT, NYU, the University of Chicago, UC Davis, and the University of Minnesota, as well as in Lebanon, Korea, Japan, Ireland, France, and Jordan where he founded a number of filmmaking programs. Most recently, he has served as a tenured Professor of Filmmaking and Screenwriting at Brown University.

His work has been shown in international venues including Sundance, Beirut, Oberhausen, Tribeca, VideoEx, Mizna, Montpelier, Athens, San Francisco, Pesaro, Moscow, Ismailia, 25FPS Croatia, Brussels Palais des Beaux-Arts, and Abu Dhabi film festivals. He also exhibited at the Louvre, Institut du Monde Arabe, Cinémathèque Française, Centre Pompidou, MoMa, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Jeu de Paume, Tokyo Museum of Contemporary Art, Harvard and Anthology Film Archives (NY), among others. He is the recipient of awards such as the McKnight, Salomon, LEF, Jerome, Bogliasco, Rockefeller, Ford, Guggenheim, Cairo International Film Festival Special Jury Prize for best screenplay, and the Rome Prize from the American Academy. In 2017, he was awarded The Andrei Tarkovsky Prize for best director.

In 2005, Bizri co-founded The Arab Institute of Film in Jordan with the late Syrian filmmaker Omar Amiralay and Danish producer Jakob Høgel, with support from the International Media Support (Copenhagen) and the Ford Foundation (NYC). He served as Producer at Future TV (Beirut), Creative Director of Orbit Communications Company (Rome), and President & Creative Director of Levantine Films (NYC).

In 2019, he founded Mimera Films, his own film practice studio. Bizri is currently living in Berlin and working on Jesus of Nazareth, a feature film he adapted from a screenplay written by the Danish film director Carl Theodor Dreyer. His other directorial project is a feature film he wrote after James Joyce’s Ulysses.

Akram Zaatari is an artist who lives and works in Beirut. He has been exploring Lebanon’s postwar condition through collecting testimonies and various documents, notably on the mediation of territorial conflicts and wars through television, and the logic of Resistance in the context of the current geographical division of the Middle East. Co-founder of the Arab Image Foundation (Beirut), he based his recent work on collecting, studying, and archiving a particular collection on the Middle East, notably studying the work of Lebanese photographer Hashem el Madani (1928-2017) as a register of social relationships and of photographic practices.

Meyar Al Roumi, born in Damascus, Syria in 1973, studied and worked as a photographer before traveling to Paris where he studied cinema at the University Paris VIII and FEMIS from which he graduated in 2001. He has worked as a director of photography on a number of documentary and fiction films in France and in Syria including: Flood in Baath Country (Omar Amiralay, 2003), Blue-Grey (Mohammad AL-Roumi, 2004), Contre la Montée (Damien Bertrand, 2003), Transit (Bani Khoshnoudi, 2004), among others.

He has also directed a number of documentaries, including, A Silent Cinema (Sinama samita, 2001), Waiting for the Day (Thilal al-Ayyam al-Ramadiyya, 2003), and Le Club de l’avenir (Nadi el-Mustaqbal, 2006). In 2007, Al Roumi completed a feature-length documentary that paints the portrait of a few taxi drivers in Damascus: Six Ordinary Stories. And The 1001 Faces of PALMYRA, 2020, broadcaster at Arte. Award of “Archaeological film” at the 11th International Archaeological Film Festival “AGON” (Greece), 2022

Al Roumi has also directed fiction films, including The Voyage of Rabeya (Rahlat Rabeya, 2005) and Journey (Rahleh, 2011). first feature-length fiction film, Round Trip premiered at the Dubai International Film Festival in December 2012. He recently completed his second feature-length fiction film The Return, 2022.

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, a duo of artists and filmmakers, work on creating thematic and formal links between photography, video, performance, installation, sculpture and cinema, documentary or fiction film.

Their latest film, Memory Box (2021), was selected at Berlinale and has been released in more than 40 countries. Their films also include Ismyrna (2016), The Lebanese Rocket Society (2012), Je Veux Voir (2008), A Perfect Day (2005). Several film retrospectives have been presented in renowned institutions such as Flaherty Seminar (New York), Torino Film Festival, International Film Festival of Gijon (Spain), Harvard Film Archive (Cambridge), Lincoln Center (New York), Locarno International Film Festival (Switzerland), MoMA (New York), Paris Cinema, Tate Modern (London), Visions du réel (Nyon), La Rochelle (France).

As for their art practice, Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige have been awarded several prize amongst them the Marcel Duchamp Prize in 2017, for their project Unconformities. They have been exhibited in numerous museums and their artworks are part of many important public and private collections such as the Centre Pompidou, Jeu de Paume, Haus der Kunst (Munich); the V&A Museum, British Museum and Whitechapel Gallery; the Guggenheim, MIT Boston, the Hamburger Banhoff, the Sharjah Art Foundation and Home Works Forum, Beirut, as well as many biennales including Istanbul, Lyon, Sharjah, Kochi, Gwangju, Yinchuan, Venice and Taipei.

About Tribe:

Tribe is a non-profit publication and platform that focuses on photography and moving image from the Arab World.


Image Credit: Him + Her VAN LEO, Akram Zaatari