I Want to See / Struggle in Jerash

Gasworks presents two feature-length films, both shown for the first time in a gallery setting: I Want to See (2008) by Lebanese artists and filmmakers Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, and Struggle in Jerash (2009) by London-based artists Eileen Simpson and Ben White. Set in Jordan in 1957 (Struggle in Jerash) and in Lebanon in 2006 (I Want to See), both films lay strong emphasis on the potential of cinema to create new ways of confronting the past and negotiating the present in the context of the Middle East.

I Want to See (2008) operates between the lines of documentary and fiction as Catherine Deneuve, playing herself, asks actor Rabih Mroué, also playing himself, to show her the aftermath of the 2006 Lebanon war. As the two characters drive towards the border of South Lebanon, a half-spoken complicity grows between them, revealing their anxieties around security and upon the question of whether Mroué will find his family house. In I Want to See, Deneuve both denies and takes advantage of her status as an icon of cinema to lend a fresh glance, and to gain physical access, to a landscape whose representation has been exploited and saturated by the media. By placing a symbol of Western cinema at the centre of a film about their own country, Hadjithomas and Joreige create a fiction that problematises familiar images of conflict.

Struggle in Jerash (2009) re-animates Jordan's first feature film, now out-of-copyright, through the creation of a new multi-voiced audio commentary. In 2008, while on residency at Makan House in Amman, Jordan, Eileen Simpson and Ben White retrieved the last surviving copy of Struggle in Jerash (1957), a film made by a self-organised group of filmmakers originating from Palestine. The film – a tale of thievery and romance set against the backdrop of historical Jordan and Jerusalem – was then screened to small groups of local cultural practitioners, whose translation and live commentary produce unexpected and engaging discussions on liberty and theocracy. Reflecting on the shifting national borders and the display of modernity portrayed by the film, the commentaries put under scrutiny the political and cultural aspirations that underpin this half-century old material.

The films are shown twice a day following a cinema-like schedule, and are accompanied by contextual material as well as two publications available for sale at Gasworks.

Screening Schedule:

12pm: I Want to See (74 min)
1.30pm: Struggle in Jerash (60 min)
2.45pm: I Want to See
4.15pm: Struggle in Jerash

Associated Event:
Sat 29 May 2010

An afternoon with Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, including a lecture performance, a conversation with art historian and critic T.J. Demos and a screening.

Viewings at alternative times can be arranged. Please contact: 020 7582 6848.
I Want to See / Struggle in Jerash

Event Title: I Want to See / Struggle in Jerash
Postcode: 155 Vauxhall St, London SE11 5RH
Further Details:
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