Archive for November, 2012

November 25th 2012

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

Filmwise: Haven’t really done much work on the Cannes documentary this week. I have been jotting down ideas for “Act One” of the piece, however. The premise is quite beguiling; getting it to work on the screen will be the challenge.

A visitor..

It’s been ages since the last time I heard a light scratching on the floorboards, followed by a flash of dark grey zapping from one corner of the room to another. On that last occasion, I had made a particularly sumptuous sea food dish, with tiger prawns and all. Needless to say, the meal was never consumed.

On this occasion, I was back from work on Thursday evening, going about the usual rituals of preparing a meal and getting ready for an in evening in the company of my favourite TV series.

The sight of the rodent whooshing across the edge of the kitchen door made me reach for the phone. My housekeeper wasn’t perturbed by the news. “It’s getting cold and they’re looking for warmth.”

The following morning, as I related to friends and colleagues the tale of the gatecrashing guest, I began to wonder about the size of the creature.

By the time I was on the train heading back home in the evening, I was convinced that this was no mouse. This was a small rat.

As I began to prepare dinner, I couldn’t help but notice a new addition to the quiet hum of sounds in my place and the neighbourhood. “One of the floorboards must be squeaking.”

It was only when the squeaking sound began to be more insistent that I started to look around the kitchen.

A mouse had been caught in the trap.

I wasn’t sure which caused me more concern, the fact that a live mouse was wriggling on my kitchen floor, or that it was indeed a mouse and not a rat.

Following some intense searching on the internet, I found a method to dispose of the animal that was both humane and prudent.

Peace and love,

Ja‘far


November 18th 212

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

Filmwise: More work on the Cannes documentary, and research into character history of my next feature.

The cinema highlight of this week was watching The Master (Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson, 212). Rather than Boogies Nights (1997), Magnolia (1999), or There Will Be Blood (2007), my favourite of Anderson’s work remains Sydney (1996), despite the epic and brilliantly stylised storytelling flourishes of The Master.

“Fourth supermarket”

On Friday evening, I was meant to meet a friend for coffee around 6:30. As I descended the stairs onto the platform at my local Tube station, I sensed a “delayed” train announcement approaching – there were too many people milling around, seemingly uncertain whether to stay or opt for an alternative form of transport.

With “the apologies for the delay” received from the PA, I let my friend know that I would be arriving a tad later than planned.

En route to the bus stop, I was stopped by two men who turned out to be from my neck of the woods.

“Sorry, where is the nearest supermarket?”

Switching to Arabic, I started by motioning to my right.

“About ten minutes in this direction, you’ll come upon a large supermarket.”

“Thank you.”

As they were about to leave, I had an idea.

“But if you don’t need to walk in this direction, then there is another supermarket in that direction.” I pointed to the left.

They seemed a bit nonplused.

“OK, I have it; the best option is the store over there.” I pointed to a street directly behind them.

The confused and slightly concerned vibes that I felt were rising in my interlocutors dissuaded me from mentioning a fourth supermarket.

“I think the first one is the best. Ten minutes in this direction,” was my attempt at recovery.

Relief and smiles were back in fashion.

Peace and love,

Ja‘far

November 11th 2012

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

Filmwise: Spent a few hours viewing the current cut of the Cannes documentary, taking notes of potential changes.

A script revisited:

Readers of this blog may recall that earlier this year I went back to a script inspired by the memories of Bisan, the lead female character in Mesocafé. In June and July, I put on paper the first draft of the screenplay, having spent a few years working – intermittently – on the treatment.

Well, this weekend I set aside an evening to read through this first draft.

With the help of a slice of carrot cake washed down with a black coffee, I settled myself into a slightly undersized chair and table at a local café. I was ready to enter the world of Bisan as a child.

As any filmmaker would tell you, the best way to read a screenplay is to go from the title page to “Fade Out” in a single session; afterall, we expect the audience to watch the film in a single session at the cinema.

Not only did I read the entire script in one session – it took just under three hours – but I seemed oblivious to the changing faces of customers seated around me. I would look down on a page while an elderly couple are starting to sample their tea and cheese sandwiches, and by the time I would look up there would be a boisterous group of tweenagers – going by the dresses of the girls -grabbing a quick snack before heading to a party.

In terms of dramatic resolution and character arc, I feel the script is quite well developed. There is, however, a  great deal more work still needed.

The next step is for me to have a solid uninterrupted session of a few weeks with Bisan and her mother, grandmother, auntie and neighbourhood kids. With the usual 9-5 commitments, I fear having such a session will remain an elusive dream. Things will simply take a bit longer. All good.

Peace and love,

Ja‘far

November 4th 2012

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Filmwise: the hiatus from the Cannes documentary is proving to be fruitful; I am spending more time working out a more nuanced structure. All good.

“It’s something else!”

Taking me on a sightseeing tour away from the more treaded path, my brothers point out the street signs, architectural texture of the city and how the old is struggling for breath amidst the crushing waves of the new.

As the car drives through a tunnel gnashing through the hard rock of a formidable mountain, there is a discernible drop in temperature, the cool Mediterranean breeze gradually giving way to the light chill of the mountains.

As the car winds its way along the steep road towards the top, slowly bringing into view the white statue of the Virgin Mary, I begin to see the resemblance my brothers had described with the scene of Christ’s statue overlooking Rio De Janeiro.

At the shrine, my younger brother guides me to the summit of the narrow steps circling the base of the statue. At the feet of the Virgin, I am moved by the sight of a young women deep in meditation, resting the tip of her index finger and thumb against her forehead and whispering a prayer to the Virgin.

My brothers and I are joined by other Muslims at this great Christian temple – two women in head scarves light candles at a small alcove at the entrance of the inner courtyard.

I find the voice of the priest soothing as he delivers the sermon in Arabic. He leads the congregation through a Psalm in Classical Arabic.

At the souvenirs shop, I inspect the miniature replicas of the shrine. I am drawn to one made of marble. As I look at the price, I gasp with delight – so reasonable is the advertised cost. Before I make a fool of myself by relating my delight with the pricing policy to the young woman behind the  counter, my brother explains that the price tag is for the small necklace hanging from the statue.

At that very moment, a colleague of the young woman behind the counter offers her a sweet of some sort. As her taste buds react positively to the offering, her colleague croons triumphantly, “it’s something else!”

Peace and love,

Ja‘far