I’ve Heard Stories

28 May 2014
City of Toronto Archives 255 Spadina Rd

SAVAC is proud to be a community partner for Blackwood Gallery’s presentation of I’ve Heard Stories, a film program curated by Azar Mahmoudian, which is being presented in conjunction with the exhibition, Incident Light: Gendered Traces in the Archives.

Curatorial Statement

Taking its title from the lead film by Marwa Arsanios, I’ve Heard Stories is a film program exploring the intersection of art and documentary practices. The selected works reveal a variety of narratives on location, landscape, and territory built on archival materials as well as fictional anecdotes, bringing together conflictual statements about spaces in transition. The films reenact events, reproduce stories, or play narratives against images to create a spatial disorientation. Collectively, they point to the ways in which archives perpetually mediate the relationship between personal and historical modes of knowing.

– Azar Mahmoudian 

Film Program

Marwa Arsanios | Lebanon, 2008 | 4:42 min
Rumours surrounding unreported murders in the mythical Hotel Carlton in Beirut are pieced together in an animation blending drawings and video, gossip and facts in an effort to give the crime a place in the history of the city. Against current images of the deserted hotel, situations are sketched that evoke the rumours that once circulated around the place and the people who inhabited it.

Shirin Sabahi | Iran/Sweden, 1966/1973/1975/2009 | 14:15 min
Footage from three reels of 8-mm film taken by Jan Edman is supplemented by a commentary Edman provides thirty years later. The Swedish engineer travelled to Iran fifteen times between 1966 and 1980 for the purpose of realizing industrial projects that were commissioned by various Iranian state-owned and private industries during the heyday of the country’s modernization. Among these undertakings was a slaughterhouse, located in a southern suburb of Tehran, which was repurposed as a cultural centre during the process of gentrification in the 1990s. Oblivious to the faith of his projects, Edman’s voice vacillates between disinterest and abrupt enthusiasm as he recounts a life spent travelling.

Neil Beloufa | Algeria/France, 2010 | 14:00 min
A cardboard decor and photographs reconstitute a luxury California-type villa in Algeria. Its inhabitants, neighbours, and other protagonists imagine themselves explaining why and how the villa became occupied by terrorists as a hiding place despite being made entirely of glass.

Basma Al Sharif | United States, 2007 | 11:38 min
In an empty room, a slideshow projection of abandoned places plays alongside the narrative of two girls who find themselves on the shores of a pre-apocalyptic paradise. Factual texts drawn from the Madrid Peace Accords and the CIA World Factbook are woven into a fictional narrative that unfolds the story of a massacre.

Miranda Pennell | UK, 2010 | 28:00 min
Medical missionary Theodore Leighton Pennell’s 1908 memoirs, Among the Wild Tribes of the Afghan Frontier, provide the narrative for a film constructed of still photographs from the period. Searching for clues to the realities behind images framed during a time of colonial conflict, the photographs are forensically examined and probed to reveal the beauty and charm of Army life on the North West frontier of British India. Meanwhile, the Afghans who occupy the shadowy nitrate background observe yet another colonial misadventure.

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