Lovesick / Homesick: SWANA Film Festival

Curatorial essay for 2022 SWANA Film Festival
Regina Public Library Film Theatre
April 8-30, 2022

The 2022 SWANA Film Festival presents moving image works that engage difficult histories through fiction, documentary, and experimental recontextualization. The films come from the SWANA region and its diasporas, invocating intergenerational memory to understand what was and what remains: the land, birthday parties, coffee grinds, talking face to (inter)face.

In an essay titled “Filming Catastrophe,” Lebanese filmmaker Bassem Fayad writes about how catastrophe creates a sense of fragmentation, and filmmaking pursues language in the face of that, to reorganize what has been fragmented. “Emptiness and fragmentation,” Fayad writes, “can only be faced with this strange, inexplicable feeling that stands, ever and always, outside of language: love.” Although love fosters resilience in the face of war, catastrophe, or trauma, it is also our familial relationships that are the most impacted during trying times. Homesickness begets lovesickness—when homespace is disrupted, that yearning becomes a ground for the family tensions that were marked by this event.

Considering the ways in which orientalist, xenophobic, and Islamophobic tropes are perpetuated in the West, I also understand SWANA filmmaking as a deeply personal, public practice of counter-archiving. In this tradition of storytelling, SWANA filmmakers explore the affects embedded in their lineage. Feelings of curiosity, loyalty, dissidence, and existentialism are grounded by a sense of lovesickness and homesickness.

In the programs Inconvenient Truths and Experimental Archives, we bear witness to the aesthetics of love, nuances of the mundane, and life changing moments. In these eight films, we tackle the entangled depths of longing. Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish defines longing as “an ache that does not long to ache. It is the aching stirred by pure air coming from a distant mountaintop, the ache of searching for a past happiness. But it is a healthy kind of ache, because it reminds us that we are afflicted with hope and are sentimental.”