Ouroboros is acclaimed visual artist Basma Alsharif's first feature film. This experimental film is an homage to the Gaza Strip and to the possibility of hope based on the eternal return. The film follows a man through five different landscapes, upending mass-mediated representation of trauma. A journey outside of time, marking the end as the beginning, exploring the subject of the eternal return and how we move forward when all is lost.
Ouroboros is an homage to the Gaza Strip based on the eternal return. Ouroboros follows a man through five different landscapes, upending mass-mediated representation of trauma. A journey outside of time, marking the end as the beginning, exploring the subject of the eternal return and how we move forward when all is lost.
With its experimental narrative—whose central character embarks on a journey to shed his pain, only to experience it anew through an undetermined time-space continuum that is alternatively lush and beautiful, haunting and despairing, fraught with physical and historical ruin and uncertain predicaments—the film adheres to a fragmentary, dreamily desultory, aesthetically immersive structure. It is a heady mix of essayistic musings, stunning landscape studies, and a kaleidoscopic, dislocated love story, in which displacement finds multiple, compelling voices, and the rhythms clash and jostle us out of expectation. Andréa Picard
A rejection of the isolation imposed on Gaza and the stasis that those who maintain it hope to engender, the visceral conclusion emphasizes that despite its somber pretenses, Ouroboros is ultimately about hope. Daryl Meador
If it is a film about the future, as Alsharif has stated, it is one that posits a future riddled by destruction, yet whose residual scars have not stunted the capacity for growth, renewal, desire, curiosity, and furtive moments of human pleasure, intimacy and collectivity. Andréa Picard
The film moves through seven discrete segments, all but the last titled with a time of day: a prologue (dawn) and epilogue (dawn) set in Palestine; four chapters following a nameless man (played by Italian artist and filmmaker Diego Marcon) from Los Angeles (noon) through Matera in Southern Italy (dusk); the California desert (twice named: night, briefly, then dusk again); a sprawling Breton chateau (noon); and finally a musical coda à la Claire Denis’ BEAU TRAVAIL (1999), which both condenses and explodes everything that came before it. Palestine is both here, onscreen, as occupied land and in these other spaces, each of which draws out some array of concerns regarding the idea of Palestine.
Given that Alsharif makes herself responsible at every turn for the relationship between her own images and the entire history of global-image culture, it will be necessary to return to the question of pictures of violence and suffering, even as they remain largely absent from her work. [...] Thus Palestine is both here, onscreen, as occupied land and in these other spaces, each of which draws out some array of concerns regarding the idea of Palestine.
Basma Alsharif has garnered attention worldwide for her installations and shorts over the last few years. Her work invites the viewer to re-think the depiction of language, time and space, and to re-experience the understanding of creating images and telling stories.
"With Ouroboros, I was interested in weaving together disparate landscapes and peoples and histories, and to ask us to see them as part of an endless cycle of destruction and renewal, doomed to repeat itself as the process of forgetting seemed to be the only way forward." Basma Alsharif