3th DMZ Docs(2011)
I AM DOCU
The Sira may be unfamiliar to us but it is acknowledged to be the most significant epic poem in Arab literature. And like any epic poem, the Sira evolves around a hero’s encounters with war, peace and love. Enamored with the beauty of the Sira, Egyptian poet Abdel Rahman el-Abnoudy claims that Homer’s Odyssey is like one small chapter compared to the Sira. 40 years of dedication to the Sira has not been enough for him to collect this vast oral poem made up of more than 5 million verses. Its cultural significance was finally recognized internationally when UNESCO designated it as an intangible cultural treasure in 2003, but the unfortunate fact is that the Sira has become almost extinct and its legacy is barely maintained in the form of musical tradition in Egypt. The last living interpreter of the Sira, Sayyed el-Dawwy may be illiterate, but he is the only existing person to know its entire 5 million verses by heart. Now, he wants to pass the Sira down on to his grandson Ramadan, just as it has been done by word of mouth for generations. Ramadan on the other hand doesn’t agree as he is convinced that traditional ways will not work in modern times. Influenced by pop music and soap operas, he is more interested in modern interpretations of the Sira.
Sira – Songs of the Crescent Moon which introduces the disappearing tradition of the Sira through the 80-year-old Sayyed el-Dawwy raises several important points to think about. What kind of significance do traditional values hold in modern society? Why are we always looking for a hero? Some answers can be found in the film. The songs of the Sira we hear almost throughout the film present a humble beauty not found in any kind of extravagant entertainment while offering us meaningful wisdom that exceeds time. (CHUNG Woo-chung)
Born in 1969 in Aarau, Switzerland, Sandra Gysi studied Arabic on regular sojourns in Egypt. As a cultural manager, she organized various exhibition projects of contemporary art from Africa. She currently works part-time as a film producer at Vum Productions in Zurich and as a freelance documentary filmmaker. Sira - Songs of the Crescent Moon (2011) Madson Junior - Kinderstar in Afrika (2007) La vie est Courte, Mais Assez Large, Isis 1919 (2007)
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