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Fourth Wednesdays at the Trylon

The Mizna Film Series is a monthly selection of programs, marking Mizna’s first venture into year-round curated film programming. While the annual Film Festival organized by the St. Paul-based organization focuses primarily on the works of contemporary artists, the Mizna Film Series provides a space to expand Mizna’s regular film programming to include screenings, critical essays, filmmaker interviews, and discussions exploring revolutionary forms of cinema from the Southwest Asia and North Africa region and beyond.

The Series continues its monthly program with a special Beirut-focused summer series. Encountering the real effects of destruction, the films in this series complicate the relationship between fact and fiction, using poetry and other forms of intermediality to witness what emerges from ruins. Beirut, a city that has often been the site of sectarian, colonialist and imperialist violence, is a context which produces films that critically engage with images related to moments during, between, and after war and upheaval. At the center of this series is a retrospective of several early films by Jocelyne Saab, who uses documentary form to demonstrate the effects of violence in Lebanon and to challenge dominant western media perceptions and practices of filming and exhibiting war in Beirut. This series coincides with and honors the one year anniversary of the devastating Beirut Port explosion through the celebration of Lebanese filmmaking.

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Upcoming Films in this Series

Wed, October 27


(2020, DCP, 88m, Palestine/France/Germany/Portugal/Qatar, Arabic with English subtitles) dir Arab and Tarzan Nasser w/Salim Daw, Hiam Abbass, Maisa Abd Elhadi. Narrative feature. Gaza, today. Sixty-year-old Sherman Issa is secretly in love with Siham, a woman who works as a dressmaker at the market. Finally determined to propose, he gets momentarily distracted by the discovery of an ancient statue of Apollo in his fishing net, which he decides to hide at home. When Hamas discovers the existence of this mysterious treasure,…

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Past Films in this Series

Starts Wed, February 24


(1970, DCP, 98m) dir Med Hondo w/Robert Liensol, Théo Légitimus, Ambroise M'Bia. A bitterly funny, stylistically explosive attack on Western capitalism and colonialism, Soleil Ô follows a starry-eyed immigrant as he leaves West Africa for Paris in search of a job and cultural enrichment. He soon discovers a hostile society in which his very presence elicits fear and resentment. Hondo deploys an array of narrative and stylistic techniques—animation, docudrama, dream sequences, musical numbers, folklore, slapstick comedy, agitprop—to create a landmark of…

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Starts Wed, March 24


(2020, DCP, 80m) dir Kamal Aljafari. Following an act of vandalism, the Palestinian filmmaker's father decides to install a surveillance camera to record the scenes unfolding in front of the house. Through everyday family life, or neighbors going to work, An Unusual Summer captures fleeting moments of poetry whereas, in the background, the daily choreography of El Ramle under Israeli occupation, comes to the surface. $10 There is a free, virtual discussion with film director Kamal Aljafari and scholar Kareem…

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Starts Wed, April 28


(2017, DCP, 125 mins) dir Marwan Hamed w/ Maged El-Kedwany, Khaled El-Sawy, Menna Shalaby, Kenda Alloush. Samir Eliwa is the head of a small family, an employee in a bank for years, but he suddenly gets fired after a decision to reduce labor, which was a shock he couldn’t face his family with, during his search for a job he discovers that his bank account is depleted, few days later he opens the door to find a box with a…

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Starts Wed, May 26


(2018, DCP, 83m) dir Bayley Sweitzer & Adam Khalil (Ojibway) w/ Rose Mori, Sam Richardson, Austin Sley Julian, Pawel Wojtasik. Empty Metal reveals a political fantasy, an alternative reality whose characters teeter on the dull knife edge that is contemporary American politics, but they refuse to fall right or left. Instead, they lash out from the soul, and under the radar, in an attempt to achieve what their mainstream predecessors have yet to accomplish. Empty Metal is a war movie without a war,…

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Starts Wed, June 23


Two short documentaries by Jocelyne Saab shot near the beginning of the Lebanese Civil War and a feature-length documentary by Mai Masri and Jean Chamoun shot toward the end of the war in 1988 will screen this June. Central to these films are the youth of Beirut as they live with and resist imperialist and sectarian forms of violence. Palestinian Women (1974, DCP, 10m) dir. Jocelyne Saab. In this short film, originally commissioned for French television but never aired, Jocelyne…

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Starts Wed, July 28


July will feature Jocelyne Saab’s Beirut trilogy, a series of landmark works in Lebanese cinema and masterpieces of the essay film form. Trained as a radio and television journalist, Saab turned her attention to documentary films at the start of the Lebanese Civil War. Saab’s commitment to and intimate interactions with the displaced, the exiled, and the dispossessed, mark her films and her quest to capture Beirut as uniquely her own. Beirut, Never Again (1976, 35m) dir Jocelyne Saab. Every…

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Starts Wed, August 25


Cultural works made in post-war Lebanon are often labyrinthine in form and content, as artists and their subjects attempt to understand, navigate, and resist the sectarian power structures that led to the war, and reckon with its boundless destruction. As the Lebanese people continue to live under protracted war infrastructures, the questions raised in the August films by Mai Masri and Jean Chamoun, Jalal Toufic and Graziella Rizkallah Toufic, and Ghassan Salhab remain as relevant as ever. Now / Maintenant…

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Starts Wed, September 22


(2013, 99m) dir Sarah Francis. A glassed van roams the streets of Beirut, home to a camera that explores the city behind the glass. Along the way, several people are invited to share a personal moment in this moving confessional. Each one comes as a face, a body, a posture, a voice, an attitude, an emotion, a point of view, a memory. Their confessions are true, blunt, and intimate. However, soon enough, the van empties again, and roams Beirut; restlessly looking…

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