"If gods are not dead yet, we will have to kill them": Waël Noureddine

In an interview with EL UNIVERSAL, the Lebanese filmmaker talked about his bravest movie so far: 'A film far beyond a god'.
Waël Nourredine filming in Yemen.
29/03/2015
10:29
Giselle Rodríguez
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Lowave, a publishing house specialized in experimental cinema and video art, says that Waël Noureddine's films "reveal what Italian film director Pier Paolo Pasolini calls 'civil poetry', meaning literary descriptions and criticisms of real situations."

Impressed by the originality of his bravest short film so far, I decided to interview this Lebanese director after watching "A film far beyond a god".

1. In an interview for the International Film Festival Rotterdam, you said you "wanted to kill gods, both ancient and recent ones." Why do you think God should be killed?

God is killing us every day, everywhere. Look at the wars and the blood spilled to satisfy our gods. If gods are not dead yet, we will have to kill them in order to emancipate and get free. Anyway, what is God? If we stick to monotheism, in Hebrew God is written "elohim", and Elohim in Hebrew is the plural of Eloh (God). Humans created gods, not the opposite.

2. In an interview with Haus der Kulturen der Welt about your Lebanon trilogy you said:  "One has a choice between army and religion or religion and army". What would happen if religion was no longer one of the two choices in the Middle East? Do you think it would become a more peaceful region?

Not only in Middle East, anywhere! If we clean ourselves from religion, we will live better. Look the "holy books": go kill, go burn, go cut hands. Ok, maybe sometimes they ask people for peace and love, so why to focus on "kill and cut ..."? I reverse the question, why don't religious people see that part of "hate and kill"? If they put aside their books maybe we reconsider religion. 

3. Do you really think reminding Arabs about their polytheistic past would make them feel less identified with Islam, less "green"? 

I think you mean "Muslims" by Arabs? And the answer is of course! Go ask any non-Muslim what was Mecca before Islam? Many of them don't know, they think Muslims created the Kaaba and the city. If you ask Muslims, they tell you: Abraham rebuilt it at the same place where Adam built it. What a stupidity! Saudis paid fortunes to make historical research in order to discover history and destroy it!!! Look what (the terrorist organization) ISIS is doing in Syria and Iraq? What official Islam has done since beginning: destroy civilization, vestiges and replace them with ignorance and emptiness. 

Quoting from Noureddine's own movie: “For 1500 years Islam worked to blow down Arabia’s history by confiscating it. The Kaaba in Mecca was not build by or for Muslims: Mecca was the capital of the whole region, the economical and cultural centre of a part of the peninsula. Kaaba was a temple for 360 gods, and Hubal was the most important. Every year, pilgrims visited Mecca, walking naked around the Kaaba (where Hubal was positioned on the roof) and they choose the best poem of the year before writing it with gold at the Kaaba’s wall. When Mohamed’s army entered Mecca, they destroyed all gods and decided that Kaaba was to be “Allah’s house”. History is written by the winners and Hubal became taboo… Why taboo? Because his heritage went to Allah. For those reasons I wanted to make a film about Hubal, to break that taboo, to speak about what is politically incorrect.”

4. Why did you choose to shoot the film in Yemen, even though Hubal, the pre-Islamic god whose story Noureddine sought to rescue, was worshipped in north Saudi Arabia and south of the Levant?

Because Saudis still execute "witches" in our days! So they would have no problem in executing me if they knew I am shooting a film against their believes. I wasn't scared, but I wanted to live more and make more films. I can't go to Saudi Arabia, so I went to Yemen, where the Arabs all came from. 

5. In your film you talk about the economic interests of the Quraysh in the worshipping practices at Mecca in pre-Islamic days. Is this reference a veiled criticism to the House of Saud, the ruling royal family of Saudi Arabia.

Yes, and to the Islamic-Arab imperialism. Before Islam the Quraysh controlled the economy of the region, after Islam it seems that God gave them that right, forever. They exert a strong power on Arabs and other nations in the name of Islam. Look the Kurdish, they arrived to them with a Quran in one hand and the sword on the other. "Become Muslim and learn Arabic or you will get killed." And that is what happened to all others. I have lot of respect for Kurds who rejected this imperialism and kept as much as they could from their civilization, culture and language alive until today.

6. Can you tell us a bit about your work as a poet? Where has it been published, in what language?

It was published in Germany, Beirut and I know that an Israeli magazine translated it from my (ex) blog and published it.

7. Are war and the contradictions in the Arab world the subject of your poems too?

Maybe war had a deep impact on me. It is a hellish experience. When I was a kid there was war, we saw death and blood and bombs until it became our "daily bread".

Noureddine was born in 1978 in Lebanon, when the South Lebanon conflict (code-named "Operation Litani" by Israel) started. It was an Israeli invasion of Lebanon up to the Litani River. The conflict resulted in the death of between 1,100 and 2,000 Lebanese and Palestinians, 20 Israelis, the internal displacement of 100,000 to 250,000 people in Lebanon and the Palestine Liberation Organization forces retreating north of the Litani River.

8. What projects are you currently working in?

I have many projects in mind, I am finishing editing my last movie "Boombs" (Bombs+boobs = Boombs) and I am preparing a new feature film about love and death.

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Waël Noureddine is a filmmaker, writer and poet. From 1996 to 1999 he worked as a journalist for the Lebanese newspaper Al Nahar. He has a degree on Film Studies from Paris Panthéon-Sorbone University and also studied Theater and Journalism at the Lebanese University in Beirut.

 

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