Discussing the analysis of media production in Syria: musalsalat and news websites

Thanks to the interest and the kind invitation of Yves Gonzalez-Quijano on the 26th of January the French Institute of Damascus IFPO is hosting the seminar “Discussing the analysis of media production in Syria: TV drama and news websites“.

I am going to present my PHD research on Syrian musalsalat with a particular focus on the methodological aspect of doing media studies in Syria. My Italian colleague Enrico de Angelis is studying Syrian news websites with respect to their links to a broader Internet culture and the challenges they present to traditional news-making in Syria. Our talks start at 6pm and are going to be in English (no translation).

On the same day, but starting at 2.30 till 5 pm, IFPO will host an interesting round table with Syrian journalists from news websites (in Arabic only).

Speakers are: Nabil Saleh (Al Jamal), Mohamed Abdel Rahim (Sham News), Firas Adra (DPress) and Mazen Bilal (Suryia al Ghad). The round table is organized by Enrico De Angelis and moderated by Yves Gonzalez-Quijano.

Syrian musalsalat in Sweden

I`m in Lund, Sweden, attending a very interesting conference on Syria and will be giving a talk this morning under the title of “An overview on Syrian drama production context: private producers, Gulf funding and the State as multiple powers re-shaping contemporary Syrian musalsalat”.

The panel will feature Christa Salamandra, the US anthropologist who first studied Syrian drama; Cecile Boex who`s working on audiovisuals and contentious politics at IFPO in Damascus; and Shayna Silverstein from the  University of Chicago on secularism and the aesthetics of debke performance. The conference is a three day event featuring also art exhibitions and oud performance, being a window on the many facets of Syrian contemporary culture. Thanks to the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies at Lund University for organizing this!

Women in musalsalat: “Bab al hara 5″ and “Abuab al ghraim”

This morning I jumped into this Emirates 24/7 article on Bab al hara 5 which states: “Syrian drama popular despite abuse of women”.

This is not the first time I`ve heard heavy critical statements on the way Bab al hara serial portrays women and their role in the society. The directors and many of the actors have tried many times -in public occasions- to “adjust” this belief. I met once Kamal al Murra, one of the writer of the musalsal, and, when asked  this question (he must be tired of people asking why women are portrayed so badly) he answered very frankly that Bab al hara was not aiming at portraying the whole Syrian society. It was the story of just one little neighbourhood (hara) in Old Damascus and, despite the “hara” was an imagined one (iftiradiya) the social behaviour, the values and the lifestyle portrayed in it were exactly like in many others “harat sha`abiya ” at the time. He was referring to a low-class “hara” where you couldn`t expect to see elite behaviours or lifestyles, such as educated or “liberated” women.

In Bab al hara 5 episode broadcasted yesterday, the main topic was Hisam -the eldest son of the so madly popular Abu Hisam- desperately looking for a third wife. Hisam is already married twice but, as he points out: “I`ll have the first two wives taking care of the house and the children. I want to enjoy life with the third one”. In another scene  his sister Bouran goes to visit their mother – that very same Souad who was divorced by the honourable Abu Hisam for having dared to express a different opinion from his- and asks her to mediate with her husband who wants their teenager daughter to get married. When Bouran tries to make him understand that she is “still playing”, he gets mad and screams that they are not supposed to pay forever in order to raise their daughter. In another episode, we see Bouran`s male son who goes to school -the “kuttab”- whereas his little sister stays home with mum and learn how to be a perfect housewife.

I don`t know in how many episodes -basically, every time somebody gets pregnant- all the men “order” their women to “deliver a boy”. Ironically enough, should this wish come true, al “hara” would be a male-only neighbourhood not able to reproduce itself without recurring to the “ghrarib” (the foreigner).

Almost at the same time  slot Bab al hara 5 is broadcasted on MBC, its Pan Arab competitor Dubai TV broadcasts “Abuab al ghraim” (the doors of the cloud) directed by Syrian Hatem Ali. Despite the directors and many actors in the cast are Syrians, the spoken language of the musalsal is a very delicate kind of old fashioned Gulf dialect. The story is in fact inspired by  Dubai ruler Sheikh al Maktoum`s poetry and set during the time when British occupation forced the local bedouin population to migrate.

The difference between “Abuab al ghraim”`s bedouins and “Bab al hara”`s urban population is enormous, particularly when it comes to women. Bedouin women are proud, fierce and bold. Their  are very feminine but their attitude can be  confrontational vis-a`-vis their men.

Watching this “bedouin drama” made me think to that”hara” in Damascus, the “oldest urban settlement in the world”, as all the Damascenes like to remind each foreigner.

The past is never “the Past” and everything we tell about “those times” is the result of a precise choice -being it intentional or unintentional- that we are making “right now”.

Precisely for this reason, the “hara” of the oldest city in the world can be much less “urban” than a bedouin camp.

Interestingly enough, both of them are “made in Syria”.

Me with some “Bab al hara” women at Bab al hara 5 shootings, May 2010, Damascus.

PHD School at Danish Institute in Damascus to focus on musalsalat and entertainment in the Arab media

Since Ramadan has become the “month of musalsalat”, this announcement will probably match with the general “mood”.

The Danish Institute in Damascus, together with Copenhagen University, will be hosting a PHD school entirely dedicated to the “Arab TV fiction and entertainment industries”. The school will be hosted by the Danish Institute in Damascus, a wonderful old Arab house in Old Damascus, from 25 to 30 November 2010. Everybody doing research on musalsalat or any topic related to entertainment is welcome to send a paper proposal. The full announcement can be found on the Danish Institute website or on Copenhagen university website. Deadline for paper proposal submission is 30 September.

The final day will host a seminar entirely dedicated to musalsalat, featuring Syrian and international experts.

Ramadan, the “month of musalsalat”, begins today

Ramadan kareem to everybody in the Muslim word. Today the holy month starts but, as a Syrian director friend of mine once said, this is “the month of musalsalat” for many people.

The National, the UAE online publication, published yesterday the “essential viewing this Ramadan“.  Yahoo!Maktoob has also prepared a tailor made platform for Ramadan which includes a  TV guide to find out which musalsalat are being broadcasted by whom. It might be not so easy to find out what you want to watch during Ramadan, as with more than 500 FTA channels -many of them broadcasting musalsalat of good and very low quality- it`s kind of difficult even to make your personal viewing schedule. I started watching TV extensively yesterday afternoon, when most of the channels were broadcasting overviews of their Ramadan grids. I was surprised to realize how many “Bedouin serials” are about to be broadcasted this year, I could see desert settings and hear much more Khaleji dialect than I remember from last Ramadan season. Dubai TV was a mix of glittering “Hollywood style” stars as Yousra and the Syrian Bassel al Khayat introducing their new musalsalat, plus very basic -and not funny for me..but maybe it`s because the dialect is harder – bedouin musalsalat, kind of “low cost” look. From time to time, the presentation of its Ramadan grid was interrupted to leave air space to English spoken features -like one on “Dubai as the best shopping place for gold”- clearly addressed to potential tourists.

Al Jazeera had a show called “Mata Ramadan?” (When is it Ramadan?) in order to find out when exactly the holy month should kick off.

Today is the official start of the fast together with the musalsalat “grand bouffe”. The afternoon was mostly “colonized” by sheikhs dealing with religious habits, fast, Ramadan enquiries from the audiences. Even MBC was silent on musalsalat side and focused on those “religious” programmes.

The only place where I was able to watch a musalsal this afternoon was Dubai TV, which was broadcasting the latest Syrian actor Bassam Kousa`s Tv drama, where he plays an Arab “Rain man” (do you remember Dustin Hoffman playing the autistic but brilliant main character together with Tom Cruise?). The musalsal is called Wara` as-shams (Behind the sun) and it is produced by well-known Syrian company Aj headed by Hani Arshi (who also appears in the role of consultant for the musalsal). It tells the story of a young and beautiful couple whose life will change since the announcement the child they are expecting is affected by the Down syndrome. From which I could see on the screen today, Bassam Kousa is very far from Dustin Hoffman`s performance in “Rain man”. He over-acts and over-reacts and makes you wonder why if you want to have any success during Ramadan (or even want to be just noticed) you have to tackle sort of “taboo” issues -but the kind of taboos that make your audience cry, like an handicap-. Sounds like the old Hollywood lesson: just perform the role of a marginalized, handicapped, etc and you will get your Oscar home. Despite I love Bassam and the way he acts, I have to say that this first episode of “Behind the sun” did not convince me at all.

Dubai TV is betting on Hatem Ali and Yousra`s works as “main dishes” this Ramadan. Hatem, who I have met in Damascus and chatted about his view on musalsalat industry, has wonderful insights, he is a talented director and a gifted intellectual. I loved his last film work “Al leil at-tawuil” (The long night) produced by Haitham Haqqi which I could only screen in Barcelona at Wocmes congress for the first time last July. I`m not a big fan of his Andalusian or Bedouin works, but I`ll definitely watch “Abuab al ghraim” (the gates of the cloud) tonight at 23 pm KSA which has been taken from Sheikh Al Maktoum`s (the ruler of Dubai) poetry. The Sheikh inspires more than one programme on Ramadan grid,  it seems: just watched “Kawather ramadaniyya” (Ramadan thoughts) which also comes out from his pen.

Even if I have no idea about what the drama will be about, I`ll watch the latest Yousra`s of course, tonight at 00.00 KSA on Dubai. Yousra has been my favourite actress since the time she was acting with Youssef Chahine and, even if she is in a musalsal, for me it`s always the same blood- tempered girl of “Iskandria kaman wa kaman?“.

MBC will broadcast the “must follow” of the season, “Bab al hara 5″ and I`m very curious to see it on air, after I have attended the musalsal shootings in Damascus last May. No, of course I won`t tell in this blog if Abu Shehab or Abu Issam are coming back! Also curious to watch “Tash ma tash” in its 17th season, if I can make it to understand the Saudi accent. There are a number of Egyptian musalsalat on MBC that I will have a look at, knowing well that I will give up after a few episodes.

Future TV is broadcasting Najdat Anzour`s “Ma malakat aymanokom” (which I will not dare to translate: too many different translations are appearing on the Net, and the expression comes directly from the holy Quran, the women`s sura) which I have watched a bit in his office during the editing process, founding it beautifully done and extremely interesting. Najdat also has got “Zhakirat al jasad” (Memory of the flesh) on Abu Dhabi TV which is inspired by the life of Algerian writer Ahlam Mosteghanemi.

That`s already so much to watch and there`s even more to discover just by zapping with the remote control from channel to channel after the Iftar meal.

Colloquial Arabic in Syrian TV Drama

Tomorrow 8th June at 8pm the Danish Institute in Damascus (situated in the beautiful area of Suq as-souf in Old Damascus) is hosting a lecture on “Colloquial Arabic in Syrian TV Drama” (Arabic only). Mr Wafik al Zayim, the famous actor who plays “Abu Hatem” character in “Bab al hara” TV series, is also a TV drama writer specialized in “Damascene drama” type and he is currently working on the script of next Bassam al Malla`s (Bab al Hara creator and director) TV musalsal “Khan al Shukr” (shooting should start right after Ramadan).

Mr Wafik has been studying the relation between Syrian colloquial Arabic (3ammia suryia) and TV production. He has just completed a dictionary of old Damascene terms that will be soon be released on Panarb market.

On “Bab al hara”… and the culture of Arab journalism

DDR wa rijal al hara, picture courtesy of Hikmet Daoud

Actually I didn`t want to write about this topic now, since there are much more important things happening in the world (particularly in the Arab world, see Gaza and #Flotilla issue), but some people made me think that I should anyway write down some remarks about the following issue.

So I was lucky enough, thanks to director Mo`min al Malla and his team, to follow some shootings of “Bab al hara 5″ which are being held at Qaryia Shamyia, a “fake” Damascus that has been rebuilt out of the (real) chaotic and messy Damascus – a place where you basically can enjoy “Sham without Sham”, the beauty of its souqs, houses, squares, without having to bear with the noise, the dirtiness, the traffic, and all the “disadvantages” of a real big capital-. A  “sanitized” version of the Syrian capital that has been built for the sake of tourists and grown bigger and bigger after the increasing success of  “Bab al hara” (its headquarters studios are there).

“Bab al hara 5“`s shootings were a great experience from many points of view, both from sociological to strictly “TV production” perspective. It was extremely important for my PhD research and also for the great people I was able to meet there, actors, crew, and particularly Hikmet Daoud (the guy who designed all the costumes and created the “Bab al hara” look). More on my  PhD thesis, inshallah..and actually I will present a paper on “Bab al Hara” at WOCMES conference next July which then I will publish here, too.

What I want to talk about now is the article that was published on MBC.net few days ago. The journalist  interviewed me during the shootings and was very kind to me. Of course, misunderstandings happen all over the world, and usually the person who is interviewed is never happy to read his/her words once published cause he/she fells betrayed by the journalist.

I don`t feel this intentionally betrayed but I just want to underline some points that can look a bit “naif” on my side in the Arabic text (and it can be cultural or even language misunderstanding).

First of all, I`d like to point out that I didn`t get to “Bab al hara” because of the many articles I`ve read on Italian press as the MBC article says!

I`ve been studying Arab media for the past 10 years and more, I do read Arabic press, travel extensively around the Arab world, and for somebody who has studied the structure of Panarab media for a decade and published academic books about Al Jazeera (Al Jazeera. Media e societa` arabe nel nuovo millennio, Bruno Mondadori publisher,Milano, 2005), MBC, Orbit and ART (Media Oriente, edizioni Seam, Roma, 2000) it`s kind of natural at some point to start studying the content of media.

TV fiction (musalsalat) is an important part of this content, and I`ve been studying them (not only “Bab al hara” but the whole phenomena of Syrian drama) for a while now. Western press -not Italian!- mostly UK and US based has paid some attention of course to “Bab al hara” as a sociological phenomena. And in fact, what I was trying to convey to the journalist -and also to the crew of “Bab al hara“- is that myself as a Western researcher I`m interested to the financial, sociological (and linguistic) aspects of the drama, not to its characters or what did “fulan” or if Abu Shab is coming back or not:)

As for the specific of its linguistic aspects, I`ve been talking a lot about this issue particularly with Ustaz Wafiq al Zaiim who performs “Abu Hatem’. He is very much into “drama shamyia” and the use of Syrian dialect into musalsalat (next week we are hosting his conference on this very topic at the Danish Institute in Damascus). He recognizes that the dialect used by “Bab al hara” is a “standardized” one, who should be made understandable by everybody (and, I add this, particularly since its main audience is in the Gulf countries). We have been discussing a lot about the use of words like “3aghid”, etc. and its implications, linguistically and culturally speaking, and I`m grateful to him for his insights.

What the article doesn`t specify is why -as I said- most of the audience of “Bab al hara” -and the audience which counts- is in the Gulf, and not in Syria. In Old Damascus, where I do live, I`ve  never ever found anybody who agrees with the version of “damascenity” that is promoted by “Bab al hara”. Not even a shop owner of Old Damascus -and I`m not talking about press or university professors, elite i3ani- agrees that lifestyle in Old Damascus has ever been as the one “Bab al hara” advertises. Different people I`ve spoken with in the Old City of Damascus -people who don`t know each other- quote as the best representation of Old Damascus the one done by an almost unknown musalsal called “Al hsrum al shami”. This musalsal shows a very different Old Damascus, an “hara” which is quite far from the “hara” depicted by “Bab al hara” and its values of unity, solidarity, etc. Some people would quote “Ayyam shamyia” , by “Bab al hara” creator , director Bassam al Malla (the “architect” of drama shamyia`s success). But I would guess -just guess, nobody has numbers in his hands, as we all know that Arab TV studies do lack independent audience data so far- that the majority of “Bab al hara” audience is in the Gulf, and it is the Gulf to be so attracted by this “sanitized” and nostalgic vision of the past, much more than the Damascene or Syrian people.

Having said that -and having again pointed out that my PhD is on the Syrian drama industry, and not only on “Bab al hara” which, by the way, is a very interesting “industry case”-, I think there are many good sociological and media related reasons to study “Bab al hara” and not to “snob” it, as many wrongly do. It is certainly a media phenomena that deserves to be analysed in-depth. Anyway, I have to remark that among Syrian journalists this “objective” and sociological approach is still far to be accepted, as they are still caught in the “it is art -or not art” problem which I think we European have passed through many years ago, and “put into archives” after the 68th cultural revolution and its relation between the alleged “low-pop culture” vs the alleged “high culture”.

But the most important remark I`d like to make in respect to this article is that I don`t think “Bab al hara” represents a “barrier” to the culture of globalization, or something that fiercely opposes to it. On the contrary, “Bab al hara” is the prototype of globalization and of how it has penetrated so deeply in the entire world -including the Arab world- with its consumption values (media consumption being probably of the strongest among those values).

“Bab al hara” is a consumption spectacle made for media audiences in the very era of globalization. In my view, the typology of “return to the past” and “its golden values” of vicinity, proximity, solidarity, etc. is a creation that suits perfectly in the era of globalization and global consumption rather than a quest for “authenticity” and “non-contradictory culture”. We all know that every period has got conflict and contradictions, but the Past is always much charmer than the future, cause it cannot come back and it is always depicted with “nostalgia” and idealized, the same as “Bab al hara” does -and Qariya Shamyia does , too, emptying the “real” Sham from its mess and contradictions of present time-.

Unfortunately -and that`s another misunderstanding in the article- Old Damascus is starting to become similar to “Bab al hara” and Qariya Shamyia, i.e. “sanitized”‘. More and more restaurants and hotels are appearing for the sake and consumption of tourists and TV audiences that come to Syria to see the “real” Bab al hara. So the “real” Old Damascus is starting day by day to look little by little like the “Old Damascus done for TV”. But I guess that this,too, is a typical phenomena of globalization and its consumption patterns.

These are just some thoughts, and a blog is not the right place where to start an academic discussion. For the moment, I`d just like to thank the people of “Bab al hara” for making this “participant observation” possible. And next time I`ll do an interview I`ll remember to ask for the final text before publishing just to make sure there are no misunderstandings.

What actually has surprised me the most is not even this misunderstanding on MBC, but the fact that immediately after I saw the same article published on many different websites (Discover Syria, Damas Post, etc) with my name and the same picture taken by my friend Daoud, with just a quick remind of the “m b c net” website from where it was taken, but without any link and copying exactly most of the content of the MBC article without quotation…but I guess this is part of the problem I`ve already underlined in the previous post about “copy and paste culture” so much widespread in the Arab world…

Najdat Anzour`s new TV drama to set Ramadan 2010 on fire

A very hot and dry summer afternoon in Damascus. The kind of weather which pushes you to be indolent. But in this tiny Maliki apartment there is even more activity that usual. Two workstations in parallel are editing ما ملكت أيمانكم” (“Whatever you possess”) and ذاكرة الجسد” (“Memory in the flesh”), the latest TV drama  works by Syrian director Najdat Anzour.

I`ve been knowning Najdat for some years now and I`ve always admired his dedication and passion, whatever kind of work he does. This can`t be more true this time when he is working on such different contexts and stories. “Memory in the flesh” is inspired by the novel of Algerian writer Ahlam Musteghranemi, one of the more appreciated Arab writer of the last century, and  a very unconventional female personality. This 30 episodes TV drama is been produced by Abu Dhabi TV channel with 25% participation of Egyptian Media City, a miracle that only somebody like Najdat could orchestrate. It is very rare indeed to see Egyptian capital producing something that is shot by a Syrian -this has happened previously, as in the case of the Syrian Hatem Ali`s “King Farouk”, but the final result was rather a “made in Egypt”-.

Anzour is working with Syrian (like Syrian star Jamal Suleiman), Lebanese, Tunisian, Algerian actors to create what could be described as a “Panarab” TV fiction production, something that tackles regional interests and issues, as the Algerian liberation war, the Lebanese civil war, etc. And, of course, there is a lot of beautiful literature taken from Musteghranemi`s work. Dialogues are in classical Arabic, as Algerian dialect is still not widely understood at a regional level as much as Egyptian or Syrian.

While he is still shooting “Memory in the flesh” between France, Lebanon, UK and Algeria, Anzour is at the final editing stage of “Whatever you posses” (the meaning of ا ملكت أيمانكم” being wider than this, as it is a Quranic expression coming from the “Sura of the Women” that has got a lot of religious nuances). This musalsal, which is also due to be launched during next Ramadan, is in a way at the opposite end of “Memory in the flesh”. Whereas the latter comes from a piece of literature, is set in the past, speaks Classical and addresses Panarab issues, “Whatever you possess” is a social drama very much set in a contemporary Damascus and spoken in Syrian dialect. It deals with issues like relation between men and women, sex, religion, corruption, poverty and extreme richness, all elements that are embedded together in contemporary Syrian daily life. Najdat and his “monteur” show me two finished episodes and I can`t prevent myself from thinking that this is going to set next Ramadan on fire.

Contemporary Damascus is shown with all its contradictions without any filter: one of the most ancient urban settlement in the history of humanity,and at the same time a tiny village where rural values of tradition and its preservation still seem to prevail over modern urban values.

This contrast is visible in everything from the locations to the characters, with a particular emphasis on females. Rich “enfants gates” that spend their time on the border of a swimming pool in their rich father`s villa, talking about make up and coiffeur, whispering on their fancy mobiles and elaborating on the latest fashion magazine coming from the West – and young educated girls that are pushed to sell their bodies to pay for their parents` health treatments-. The middle class is astonishingly absent from this picture -as it is, in reality, fading away from Syrian society class composition-. Middle class is shrinking everywhere in the entire world, as a result of the globalisation process that makes the rich richer and the poor poorer: but in Syria this process dramatically involves all the values that middle class traditionally brings to society, its dedication to education and hard work, its belief in self-initiative and self-making, its urban background. The females protagonists of “Whatever you possess” -Leila, Alia and Nadine- represent three prototypes well alive in contemporary Syrian society. Their complicated relations with men are mostly based on exploitation, submission, dependence, inequality, frustration and on a unbalanced exercise of power. To this respect, every social class seems to be the same -no differences between the rich and poor, the shrinking middle class being even more desperate as more conscious of the process that is leading to its own disappearance-.

Whatever you possess” is made up of luxury villas and poor suburbs, smoky bars full of belly dancers and Qoranic schools, women dressed in “total black” and kinky “femme fatales” going from one party to another. It shows a society which is totally permeated with liberalization and globalization but hasn’t developed its “anti corps” , being only able  to read this process in financial terms (i.e. being empowered to buy the latest luxury car or mobile) but not in cultural ones.

I remember Najdat showing the promo of “Whatever you possess” to a Danish non Arabic speaking audience in Copenhagen. The results was amazing, as people could understand -through the powerful visual language – the story he wants to tell, maybe much more universal than as it looks at a first glance.

During the past few years, Najdat Anzour has smartly dedicated his career at “universal” issues that are of Westerners` and Arabs` common concerns, I.e. terrorism, relations between religions, issues like the Danish cartoon controversy. I`ve always found this very interesting but I have to say that I`m happy to see “Whatever you possess” focusing on Syrian society, debating about it, pointing out at its problems. Being more local he has probably become more universal, and even more understandable by us Westerners, even the non Arabic speakers, as those folks in Copenhagen. There is a lot of criticism in Syria in respect to this kind of “Syrian neorealism” featuring all the problems and the contradictions of the Syrian society on Regional TV screens, moreover during the holy month of Ramadan. People say those fictions don`t offer any solution for social change, just portray the bad side of a society. However, I think that through TV works as the latest Anzour`s, people could at least become conscious of some issues and realize they do exist, instead of using TV just as a way to escape in an imagery past that existed once or probably never existed.

“Whatever you possess” by N. Anzour, 2010

pictures from http://www.libyanyouths.com/vb/t27507.html

“West by the Arab media” and musalsalat on YouTube

After many people asked for copies, and thanks to my Danish friend @moltke, I was finally able to upload  on my brand new  YouTube channel ThedonatellaDR (sounds a little bit “over” but not many other names were available) some excerpts of the festival “Occidente dai media arabi” that we held in January 2008 at Teatro Palladium in Rome, then replicated in a smaller version at the European Parliament in Brussels in April 2009.

After those two major screenings, I’ve been showing around during many academic presentations those incredibly interesting little fragments of Arab TV, and everybody kept asking “could you make a copy for me?!”.

Finally we won’t need to copy anymore and you could find this material online (it’s great that some teachers and educational institutions have been asking for it already).

Those are the 4 clips from the festival that we have uploaded on You Tube:

“Irhab Academy” (Terrorism Academy), Saudi Arabia 2006

Written by Abdallah B. Al Otibi -a former “wannabe” jihadist that now makes  “anti terror”television programs-   this is an episode of the well known Saudi musalsal “Tash ma tash” that has been broadcasted during each Ramadan for many years and it’s widely popular all across the Arab Region.

A powerful satire of the famous Lebanese reality show Star Academy”, “Irhab Academy” uses the strongest weapon of mass distruction -irony- to ridiculize terrorism as an act of stupidity.

“Block 13″, Kuwait 2001-2003

The Kuwaiti “version” (very different indeed, except from the drawings) of South Park set in a Gulf capital. The excerpt shows a funny scene with a copycat of Saddam Hussein triying to kidnap Kuwaiti scholarbus in a clumsy way.

“Al Hur al ein” (The beautiful maiden), United Arab Emirates, 2005

Directed by Syrian Najdat Anzour (one of the most controversial and acclaimed Arab directors), the soap opera tells about the 2003 terrorist attacks to a compound in Riyad, Saudi Arabia, that killed  35 people and wounded over 160, mostly Arabs.

“Saqf al alam” (The roof of the world), Syria, 2007

“Saqf al alam” has a special meaning, expecially those days that the Danish cartoons controversy has been revamped by the gloomy revelations of David Headley, who admitted an existing terror plot against Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten.

The scene that we have translated and uploaded shows that there could be another way to address the issue, which both Muslims and Danes should seek: dialogue.

On Syrian contemporary drama (musalsalat) industry

Few days ago I presented my phd research work on Syrian TV Drama at the Danish Institute in Damascus and I had the pleasure to have this article published  by Badiah Snaji from Sana news agency.

This was just an internal meeting presenting the phd project that I`m currently doing with Department of Cross Cultural and Regional Studies at Copenhagen University but I hope next time we can host a bigger event and in Arabic. Thanks to all the great staff of the Danish Institute who made me feel really home during my stay!

باحثة إيطالية: مشاهدة الدراما السورية بحاجة إلى تركيز أكثر من الدراما الأجنبية

ثقافة /
11 شباط , 2010 – 04:05 PM


تحدثت الباحثة الإيطالية دوناتيلا ديلاراتا في محاضرتها التي ألقتها في المعهد الدنماركي بدمشق بعنوان “الدراما السورية المعاصرة بين سقف العالم وباب الحارة” عن أوجه الاختلاف بين المسلسلات السورية ونظيرتها الأجنبية من حيث ان الأخيرة تتمحور حول مواضيع خفيفة هدفها الأول التسلية والترويح عن النفس في حين أن الدراما السورية بحاجة إلى متابعة أكبر.

وقالت ديلاراتا إن المسلسلات الأجنبية معدة بحيث يتمكن الفرد الأجنبي من متابعتها وهو يحضر الطعام مثلاً في حين أن الدراما السورية بحاجة إلى تركيز أكبر أثناء المتابعة وخاصة أنها تتمحور حول مواضيع اجتماعية شائكة مرتبطة ببعضها أو تلجأ إلى التاريخ أحياناً وما تحويه من تفاصيل مهمة توجب متابعة جميع الأحداث التي يدور حولها العمل الدرامي.

ولفتت الباحثة الإيطالية إلى اختلاف آخر بين الدرامتين التلفزيونيتين يقوم على أساس وقت العرض الذي يتكثف في الدراما السورية ضمن شهر رمضان في حين أنه يمتد على شهور السنة كاملة بالنسبة للمسلسلات الأجنبية.

وعرضت ديلاراتا لتاريخ الدراما التلفزيونية السورية منذ ستينيات القرن المنصرم وحتى الوقت الحاضر وتطرقت إلى بعض الفروقات بين الدراما التلفزيونية السورية ونظيراتها المصرية والأردنية واللبنانية وفيما بعد الخليجية وذلك وفق السياقات التاريخية التي أنتجتها وأثرت على مسيرتها لافتةً إلى أبرز ملامح شخصية الدراما السورية التي ظلت في أغلب مراحلها مرتبطة بالمجتمع وفيها أعلام مهمون على صعيد الإخراج والكتابة والتمثيل.

وقسمت ديلاراتا الدراما السورية إلى نوعين الأول أسمته الدراما المحلية التي تتضمن مسلسلات يصب جوهرها في النوستالجيا أو ما يسمى الحنين إلى الحياة الشرقية القديمة كما في باب الحارة أو التركيز على الحياة المعاصرة كمسلسل ليس سراباً.

أما القسم الثاني فأسبغت عليه صفة العالمية والذي يتوجه في موضوعاته التي يطرحها إلى الغرب كما في مسلسل سقف العالم الذي يتحدث عن مواضيع الإرهاب أو هدوء نسبي الذي يتناول حياة الصحفيين في غزو العراق.

من جهته قال هانس نيلسن مدير المعهد الدنماركي بدمشق إن موضوع الدراما بات يشكل ظاهرة مؤثرة في المجتمع العربي المؤلف من 300 مليون نسمة ومن هنا تأتي أهمية دراسته أسوةً بما يحصل في أوروبا وأمريكا.

وأضاف.. أقمنا مسابقة في آذار الماضي لتحديد شخص يستطيع دراسة هذه الظاهرة وتقدم إليها أكثر من خمسين متسابقاً من مختلف أنحاء العالم ووقع الخيار في النهاية على الإيطالية ديلاراتا لكفاءتها العالية واطلاعها الكبير على موضوع الدراما السورية والعربية عموماً.

يذكر أن دوناتيلا ديلاراتا درست الإعلام في جامعة روما واهتمت منذ ثلاث سنوات بدراسة الدراما السورية بعد أن كان لها تجربة واسعة في الكتابة عن المحطات الفضائية العربية في منطقة الشرق الأوسط حيث تملك ثلاثة كتب في هذا الموضوع باللغة الإيطالية فضلاً عن العديد من المشاركة في دراسات عن الفضائيات العربية.

بديع صنيج

هذا المقال يأتي من الوكالة العربية السورية للأنباء – سانا – سورية : أخبار سورية