Authenticity in storytelling and overcoming challenges with Faris Alrjoob

In 'The Red Sea Makes Me Wanna Cry,' Alrjoob shares with Jordan News his inspiration—love and loss—and emphasizes his rejection of identity politics, choosing instead to focus on universal human exper

Authenticity in storytelling and overcoming challenges with Faris Alrjoob  003
(Photos: The Red Sea Makes Me Wanna Cry)
Author and filmmaker Faris Alrjoob invites viewers on an evocative odyssey through loss and recollection in his highly praised short film, "The Red Sea Makes Me Wanna Cry." Centered on Ida's expedition from Cologne to the mystical city of Petra in Jordan, the storyline unravels the mystery surrounding her partner Ismael's disappearance. In an interview with Jordan News, Alrjoob delves into the film's origins, cultural exploration, and the intricate process of bringing this poignant narrative to fruition.اضافة اعلان

Alrjoob's acclaimed creation, "The Red Sea Makes Me Wanna Cry," unfurls within the tapestry of Jordan's ancient wonders and contemporary intricacies. Garnering acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival and the El Gouna Film Festival, this German-Jordanian production beckons audiences on a cinematic voyage through landscapes laden with the weight of sorrow.

Behind the scenes: Alrjoob's creative Process
As the story unfolds, grief intertwines with the revelation of a hidden part of Ismael's life, casting a shadow on the memories Ida thought she knew. The film's emotional depth is palpable, drawing viewers into a world of cultural intersections, love's complexities, and the haunting power of loss.

When asked about the inspiration, Alrjoob said "It started a few years ago when my co-writer Matthew LaPaglia introduced an eight-page story about a couple fighting over rotten milk in their kitchen. You quickly realize, of course, it is not about the milk. They are negotiating the final act of their relationship, their love."

Alrjoob's collaboration with LaPaglia transformed this simple premise into a lyrical exploration of love and loss.

Symbolic choices
The film, while universal in its messaging, unfolds with an Arab gaze that refrains from conforming to Western narratives. Alrjoob explains, "The cultural elements are that of a certain foreignness that exists within many interracial relationship dynamics." He delves into the complexities of knowing someone intimately when cultural and ethnic memories remain unshared.

The intriguing title, "The Red Sea Makes Me Wanna Cry," carries symbolic weight. Alrjoob describes it as a visual choice, where the color red symbolizes blood and the fleeting dots one sees after staring at the sun for too long. This aesthetic lyricism weaves throughout the film, creating a poetic and emotional resonance.

Navigating cultural nuances was a significant challenge for Alrjoob, who aimed to tell a story without participating in identity politics. He states, "The challenge was to tell the story out of specificity rather than Euro-centric narrative and visual tropes." To achieve authenticity, Alrjoob collaborated with a predominantly Jordanian crew, ensuring a genuine portrayal of the landscape and its people.

Deliberate storytelling
The film's emotional connection with the audience is a testament to the deliberate pacing and rhythmic storytelling. Alrjoob notes, "We established a rhythm that was calm and gave space to the audience. It invited them to connect with the characters and the setting, and to establish a connection through which they could be able to project their own personal stories and emotion."

Personal experiences heavily influenced the storytelling, creating a film that is both authentic and relatable. Alrjoob emphasizes, "Once that was all shot or written, we were disciplined and brutal with the editing. We cut out scenes, we deformed narrative threads, we lost lines and added others to sculpt a film that the viewer can grasp and relate, and eventually take ownership of."

Visuals and sounds
The unique visual style of the film is attributed to the collaboration between Alrjoob and cinematographer Mahmoud Belakhel. Alrjoob trusted Belakhel's eye, ensuring that each frame captured not only the written scene but also the essence of the time and place. The result is a visually stunning narrative that complements the emotional depth of the story.

Sound designer Janis Ahnert, composer Omar Fadel, and musician Idreesi played pivotal roles in shaping the film's ambiance. Alrjoob acknowledges, "Sound is the true test of a film’s ambiance, and it is the most subtle way to lure an audience in."

The carefully crafted soundtrack and sound design enhance the immersive experience, creating a subtle yet powerful emotional backdrop.

Starring Mohamed Nizar, Clara Schwinning, Ahmed Shihab Eldin, and Anwar Khalil, the film is a testament to the collaborative efforts of a diverse cast and crew. Produced by the Film-und Medienstiftung NRW, the short film marks Faris Alrjoob's continued exploration of storytelling through film, video art, and performance.

The universal language of love and loss
As the film continues to make waves on the international stage, "The Red Sea Makes Me Wanna Cry" stands as a powerful testament to the universal language of love, loss, and the enduring human spirit. 

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