Sculpting in Time: Present Conditional
30 Oct - 31 Oct 2014

October 30 & 31, 2014, 1:30 – 5:15 pm

Teijin auditorium, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
Entrance fee to the Stedelijk Museum + € 2.50

It is necessary to make a reservation. Send an e-mail to, stating your full name, e-mail address, telephone number, and the date of the program you want to attend.

The Stedelijk Museum is delighted to present a program of films from Lebanon, Sculpting in Time: Present Conditional, guest curated and introduced by curator and writer Rasha Salti. The film program is part of the Public Program for the exhibition This is the Time. This is the Record of the Time, the second exhibition of the Stedelijk Museum’s Global Collaborations project.


Andrei Tarkovsky’s book of collected texts on cinema, Sculpting in Time, has become so seminal that the very notion of “sculpting in time” has itself become a foundational concept for cinematic practice. While it refers chiefly to the practitioners’ craftsmanship in unravelling time within a film’s poetic, emotional, and dramaturgical universe, this short program of documentary and essay films borrow the term to reference how the films masterfully embody and convey the specific lived experience of being and time: 

  • Time in the aftermath of a devastating war in Ghassan Salhab’s short essay film (Posthumous);
  • time in the writing of the self in a young, modern country with a contested official historical narrative in Salhab’s singular autobiography, 1958.
  • time forged in the contrast of two political imaginaries, and the temporalities of two generations, as in Mohamad Soueid’s My Heart Beats Only for Her, depicting a father, a revolutionary from the 1960s and 1970s, and his son looking to make his fortune in the unbridled hyper-neocapitalism of Dubai;
  • time and denizenship as experienced by the third generation of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, in Mahdi Fleifel’s first-person documentary A Word Not Ours, set in the Ain el-Helweh camp
  • and time and being in the fractured urban space of Beirut, in Sarah Francis’s Birds of September, where everyday people share aspirations, desires, and wounds as they drive through the city in a glass capsule.


October 30, 1:30 – 5:15 p.m.:

  • 1:30-3:15: (Posthumous) and 1958 by Ghassan Salhab
  • 3:30-5:15: Birds of September by Sarah Francis

All films with introductions by Rasha Salti. 

October 31, 1:30 – 5:15 p.m.:

  • 1:30-3:00: My Heart Beats Only for Her by Mohamed Soueid
  • 3:30-5:15: A World Not Ours by Mahdi Fleifel

All films with introductions by Rasha Salti. The screening of A World Not Ours is followed by a Q&A with filmmaker Mahdi Fleifel.


OCTOBER 30, 2014
> PROGRAM 1: 1:30-3:15 p.m.
(Posthumous) by Ghassan Salhab. Lebanon, 2007, 28 min. Color, DigiBeta, Arabic, English, French, with subtitles in English.
A subdued lamentation composed of gliding traveling shots down Beirut thoroughfares during the aftermath of the Israeli war in 2006. Clouds of media, noise, and martial worship, an arrow-shaped tear in salmon velour, and the steady scrape of the bulldozer claw, a fragile yet lapidary marker on the road to the Lebanese interior.

1958 by Ghassan Salhab. Lebanon, 2009, 66 min. Color and B&W, DigiBeta, Arabic, English, French, with subtitles in English.
1958 marks two events: the birth of the filmmaker in Senegal and the beginning in Lebanon, his parents’ native country, of a serious internal conflict that will result in a long series of civil wars. This film is an intertwining of a private history with national histories that mix themes covering exile, colonisation, and Lebanese politics as much as linguistic diversity. Yet a figure gradually begins to stand out at the center of this maelstrom: the mother of Ghassan Salhab. It is around her, her face, and her evocations that the images of the events of that time in Lebanon and Africa take shape. It is she who allows each piece of information to be handed over incarnate, perceptible, charged with an unusual and heady physical presence. (Jean-Pierre Rehm, FIDMarseille 2009)

Screenwriter: Ghassan Salhab
Cinematographer: Sarmad Louis
Editor: Simon El Habre
Music: Vasks, Wooden Shjips, Scelsi, Asmahan
Cast: Zahia Salhab, Aouni Kawas

OCTOBER 30, 2014
> PROGRAM 2: 3:30-5:15 p.m.
Birds of September (Tuyur Ayloul) directed by Sarah Francis. Lebanon/Qatar, 2013, 99 min. Color, HD, in Arabic with subtitles in English.
Characters’ parade in a glass-framed box driving across the streets of Beirut, from dawn to dusk, disclosing to the director their aspirations, dreams, desires, the pains of everyday survival, frustrations, and wounds. As the chorus of stories draws a bluntly expressionist portrayal of the city, the uninterrupted travels across its streets makes for the most unlikely road movie, cadenced with sequences in a voice-over that intimates the director’s own reflections of living in this city yet unsettled in post-war resolution.

Written, directed, and produced: by Sarah Francis
Cinematography: Nadim Saouma
Editor: Zeina Aboul Hosn and Sarah Francis
Sound: Stéphane Rives, Sarah Francis
Music: Stéphane Rives, Jawad Nawfal, Faddit Tabbal, and Paed Conca

OCTOBER 31, 2014
> PROGRAM 3: 1:30-3:00 p.m.
My Heart Beats Only for Her (Ma Hataftu li Ghayriha) by Mohamed Soueid. Lebanon, 2008, 87 min. Color, DigiBETA, Arabic-English-Vietnamese with subtitles in English and Arabic.
The Palestine Liberation Movement (most widely known by its Arab acronym, Fat’h) had a remarkable faction known as the Student Brigade, with which Soueid was affiliated in the 1970s. It was disbanded after the PLO’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 1982. Soueid has filmed its surviving members, meditating on the return to civilian life after the dust of battle had settled and dreams folded after the revolution lapsed. The film’s title is borrowed from one of Fat’h’s anthems, My Heart Beats Only for Her. The film casts a son who retraces his father’s journey among the ranks of revolutionary fighters in Lebanon of the 1970s, guided by a notebook and sketchy autobiographical notes. The film’s structure is marked with a back and forth, off-setting essentially a reflection on two generations: a father who dreamed of revolution and fame, Vietnam, and Hollywood, and his son, a filmmaker, lost between the superlative mythology of Dubai, and Beirut, the once “Arab Hanoi.”

Camera & Editing: Pamela Ghanimeh
Sound & Original Music: Nadim Mishlawi
Sound Designer: Rana Eid (db Studios)
Post Production: the postoffice
Executive Producer: Mohamed Soueid
Assistant Producer (Hanoi, Vietnam): Le Minh Tuan
Produced by: O3 Productions

OCTOBER 31 2014
> PROGRAM 4: 3:30-5:15 p.m.
A World Not Ours (‘Alam Layssa Lana) directed by Mahdi Fleifel. Palestine/Denmark, 2012, 93 min. Color, HD, Arabic and English with subtitles in English.
Blending his family portrait with the chronicles of return, Fleifel’s first feature records the daily survival of three generations of Palestinian refugees living in the Ain el-Helweh camp, just south of Sidon, Lebanon’s second largest city. Drawing on family archives (photos and videos), as well as historical footage, the film is a reflection on belonging, friendship, and family. It is not only the story of a family, but an attempt to record what is fleeting, on the brink of falling into forgetting because of collective indifference to the despair of refugees. Fleifel, who had the privilege of leaving the bleak living conditions in the camp, returns to find his friends, with whom he still shares a passion for soccer and Palestinian politics. In the unmediated, yet tender foray into the universe of the camp, A World Not Ours intimates to the viewer the poignant lived experience, over the span of generations, of being deprived of the most basic of civic rights.

Written, filmed, and directed by: Mahdi Fleifel
Producers: Mahdi Fleifel, Patrick Campbell (Nakba Filmworks)
Editor: Michael Aaglund
Music: Jon Opstad
Sound: Zhe Wu