Salam Yousry
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& Film Making

Techniquement video from Salam Yousry on YouTube.

I filmed the 4-minute feature Techniquement during a visit to Beirut in December 2008. I did not come as a tourist but rather lived the city's rhythm, with a real desire to comprehend Beirut's society and daily existence. As if it were somehow my artistic custom, I tend to express my thoughts about a new city in a visual way. I write and film excessively until the artistic product, be it simple or complex in form, emerges, inspired by my visit to said city.

The film reflects upon the historical collective memory of two Arab countries, Egypt and Lebanon, which is manifest in the language spoken in both places (despite the difference in their respective dialects) and in the musical and cinematic canons which formed the two people's perceptions of each other.

During my visit I found the Lebanese - especially Lebanese women - filled with an almost mystical interest when I opened my mouth, forming words in the Egyptian dialect with which they are so familiar; just as I, the Egyptian visitor, carrying with me ever-present clichés about the openness and beauty of Beirut girls, glanced at a woman sat by chance at my table and wanted to get to know her.

The single-shot film condenses, thus, the relationship between a Lebanese woman and an Egyptian man during his visit to her city.

She speaks his dialect, Egyptian, and he hers, Lebanese, the two dialects gradually entangling, from which heady mix blossoms a magic - inherited from the cinema (the visual) and music (the aural) – which bewitches them both. The film plays upon specific Arabic words that have quite different meanings in the two dialects.

The dialogue is absurd to the extent that one could call it a four-minute joke, ending only with the visitor's decision to return to his country and the woman's to remain in hers. The couple bid one another farewell, exchanging words particular to each dialect; present too is the influence of French culture upon colloquial Lebanese which inspired the film's title.

I met the film's two professional Lebanese actors during my visit and a sense of understanding grew quickly between us. We found space for improvisation in the text – written previously - which gave spontaneity to the acting in the single four-minute shot.

The film expresses a very personal point of view, though it's far from realistic. It's a game that I believe is the best way to produce art. And although it is utterly different to my other work, it represents an urge to experiment.  

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