In this essay, Westmoreland discusses Zaatari’s upbringing in Lebanon, and how he came to filmmaking primarily through an early interest in photography, which he used to document the tumultuous world around him. Westmoreland also addresses Zaatari’s early desire to examine and document the everyday, and how that impulse today shapes Zaatari’s approach to filmmaking and its examination of the act of image-making during times of war.
This essay describes Ergun’s use of ritual, and his attempt to occupy a position between viewing them as either socially or spiritually significant or as merely empty. Rather, Ergun examines the act itself, in opposition to the approach he feels most typified by Leni Riefenstahl, who similarly documented ritual, but in a way that adopted the ritual’s perceived sense of cultural significance, almost to the point of abstraction. Ergun, on the other hand, attempts to maintain a more dispassionate approach, and through this emotional distance, he comes to focus more on the performers’ coming together through a shared act, performing a role. Through this removal of the trappings of context and intent, we are shown individuals in moments of intimacy and surrender to the community they have created with one another.