log in / register

Twenty Eight Nights and a Poem

Akram Zaatari
Thamaniat wa Ushrun Laylan wa Bayt men al sheir
Lebanon 2015 / 110’

At the outside, we hear the song Fil Bahr, which, before reaching its melancholy conclusion about the fleeting nature of love, declines the word for "moon" in 28 different inflections. This belongs to the Arab genre of improvisation known as layali, which involves using a multitude of variations of the word layla, meaning "night." By making reference to this in the title of his film, Akram Zaatari, a Lebanese visual artist and curator, is suggesting that, in art, form is just as important as content. There is another equally obvious allusion to Tales From a Thousand and One Nights, the one box-inside-another structure of which is mirrored in the film. Twenty-Eight Nights and a Poem is the story of a photography studio called Scheherazade that was founded in 1953 in the director's hometown, as well as a collective portrait of the town's residents and their customs. In addition, it is a reflection on the subject of the reproduction of images through the now seldom-used method of flipping images from negatives, as well as, in a broader sense, the reproduction of cultural practices.

Ewa Szabłowska


Berlinale Forum 2015 - Think Film Special Mention

Akram Zaatari

He has produced more than forty videos, a dozen books, and countless installations of photographic material, all pursuing a range of interconnected themes, related to excavation, political resistance, the circulation of images in times of war, and the theory and practice of archives. He has played a critical role in developing Beirut’s contemporary art scene. In 1997 he was a co-founder of the Arab Image Foundation, a organization devoted to the research and study of photography in the region. Zaatari represented Lebanon at the Venice Biennial in 2013. He was part of Documenta (13) in 2012.

Selected filmography

1997 All Is Well on the Border

2003 This Day

2011 Her + Him (short)

2013 Letter to A Refusing Pilot (short)

2014 Beirut Exploded Views

Cast & Crew

director Akram Zaatari
screenplay Akram Zaatari
cinematography Akram Zaatari, Mark Khalifeh, Bassem Fayyad and archival footage
editing Jowe Harfounche
music Nadim Mishlawi
cast Hashem el Madani
producer Akram Zaatari
sales MC Distribution
language Arabic
colouration colour & b&w