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Articulations of presence: The explosions and rubble of Philippe Aractingi's Sous les Bombes

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Awarded both the Human Rights Film and the Alternative Vision awards at the 2007 Venice Film Festival, Philippe Aractingi's Sous les Bombes/Under the Bombs (2007) juxtaposes bomb footage from 2006 Lebanon with scenes of actress Nada Abou Fahrat acting alongside actual victims, as her character Zeina searches for her fictional lost son. In this article, I discuss this blend of documentary and fictional modes. Through an analysis of the arrest and flows of the documentary, social and individual ways of knowing in Sous les Bombes, I read the film as a constellation of these three modes, one that allows each of them space on the screen while holding their logics in tension. As such, the material and social conditions do not function as evidence for a clearly articulated political argument, nor do they function to generalize the character Zeina's personal memory trail. Instead, the three intersect at various points and also contradict at others, but ultimately collide in the final scene where the material explosions and the metaphorically exploded social and personal experiences hold together at a standstill.
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Keywords: Aractingi; Lebanon; aesthetics; articulation of presence; cinematic genres; collective loss

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Texas at Austin.

Publication date: November 1, 2010

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  • The journal aims to provide a platform for the study of new forms of cinematic practice and fresh approaches to cinemas hitherto neglected in western scholarship. It particularly welcomes scholarship that does not take existing paradigms and theoretical conceptualisations as given; rather, it anticipates submissions that are refreshing in approach and exhibit a willingness to tackle cinematic practices that are still in the process of development into something new.
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