Abbas Fahdel’s 2015 film Homeland: Iraq Year Zero is one of the great, essential documentaries of this decade. Described as a “choral saga,” it chronicles the daily life of Fahdel’s family in Baghdad, immediately before and after the 2003 US invasion. Fahdel records as his society’s stability evaporates, dramatically replaced by grief and confusion as the country (now without an operating government) plunges into chaos.
Fahdel’s new film, Bitter Bread, is now premiering at the New York Film Festival. It’s another accomplished nonfiction work, but in many ways the opposite of Homeland. Where the former is an immersive five-and-a-half-hour epic, this is a contained 87-minute portrait. Homeland dealt with keeping up a domestic life that’s been irrevocably damaged; Bitter Bread is keeping up a life while estranged from home.
Fahdel studies the Syrian refugee crisis through a camp set up alongside a busy road on the outskirts of the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon. There, families live in tents they rent for $500 a year from the landowner. This is a film brimming with faces and voices, creating a polyphony of people telling us about, or simply living out, their lives. An engaged 18-year-old tries to bring his partner into the camp, despite officials forbidding extra tents. In between casually watching a tube TV on the fritz, a relatively calm man runs the local general store, supplying essential goods based on a tab system, since everyone there can barely earn enough (mostly from picking crops) to scrape by. An endless gaggle of children smile and pose for the camera.
Bitter Bread turns a compassionate eye on the hardscrabble lives of people who have been violently uprooted from their homes, and still yearn for them. The refugee crisis is frequently depicted as a serious yet abstract issue, but Fahdel brings it into focus on an immediate, human level.
If there is an object you have ever desired in your life, rest assured that someone in the advertising industry made money convincing you of exactly that.
Eva Hagberg’s new book sheds light on the relationship between critic and publicist Aline Louchheim and architect Eero Saarinen.
The award-winning Canadian artist explores notions of power through the imagery of science fiction in portraits, sculpture, and objects.
Custodians, groundskeepers, and movers at the Rhode Island School of Design are seeking wage improvement, healthcare benefits, and a retirement package.
Ceramic fried eggs, critiques of real estate, and a whole booth dedicated to female-identifying saints caught my eye at Untitled, NADA, and Art Miami.
This affordable, interdisciplinary program with excellent facilities and private studios offers in-person instruction for 2023.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office recovered 23 looted objects from Shelby White’s home over the last year and a half.
An egregious “anti-woke” billboard erected in Los Angeles attempts to sow division among Latino/a/x communities.
The latest episode of this documentary series on PBS explores the meaning of home through handmade objects, hand built homes, and the artists who create them.
This week, missed signs of previous life on Mars, the appeal of forged art, and why are blue whales singing in lower octaves?
All the Beauty and the Bloodshed forcefully posits multiple parallels between the world Nan Goldin grew up in and the one she fights in today.
Rhode Island School of Design opens registration for its residential summer Pre-College program and year-round online intensive Advanced Program Online.
Your list of must-see, fun, insightful, and very Los Angeles art events this month, including Bob Thompson, Aimee Goguen, Uta Barth, the Transcendental Painting Group, and more.
There is the singular artist and then there is the more exclusive club that has only one member. Harvey belongs to the latter.