Kiss Me Not on the Eyes screened at Cervantes Institute

Menna Taher, Thursday 28 Jul 2011

Opening a new film series entitled 'Revolution and Cinema', Jocelyn Saab's Kiss Me Not on the Eyes tackles female genital mutilation, love, desire and censorship, though with mixed results

Dunya

Kiss Me Not on the Eyes by Lebanese filmmaker Jocelyn Saab was screened at the Instituto Cervantes, the Spanish cultural institute, Tuesday 26 June, as the opening film in a new series by the centre entitled “Revolution and Cinema.”

The head of the cultural institute, Luis Javier, gave a small speech at the beginning of the screening, marking his last appearance as director before stepping down. Javier said he believes that cinema is the most important art form as it bridges cultures.

“The relationship between cinema and revolution is very old,” he said, giving the example of the Bolshevik Revolution and how it instigated a flourishing in Russian cinema.

“The Spanish Civil War also gave birth to a new cinematic movement, which includes the surrealist film director Luis Buñuel,” he added.

Kiss Me Not on the Eyes takes place in Egypt and revolves around Dunya (Hanan Turk), a dancer in her 20s who still suffers from the repercussions of female genital mutilation (FGM) performed on her at an early age. The film sheds light on the psychological complexes FGM causes females. It also discusses censorship through a professor’s defense of the original uncensored edition of the novel One Thousand and One Nights.

Though such issues deserve careful treament, the film with its script falls into pretention too many times. The dialogue is infused with conversations about the meaning of love and desire, yet the words are too general, and it comes over as contrived and empty.

On the positive side, the film has aesthetic quality and some good shots. It also has a good mixture of colours, movement and song, despite the somewhat Orientalist nature of the soundtrack.

In the discussion that followed the screening, Jocelyn Saab talked about the lack of freedom of expression in the body and in thought in the Arab region and related the film’s themes to the virginity tests conducted on female protestors on 9 March by military police.

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