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New Directors/New Films ’10 | Director Dima El-Horr On Keeping it Real for “Every Day is a Holiday”

New Directors/New Films '10 | Director Dima El-Horr On Keeping it Real for "Every Day is a Holiday"

A stunning first scene immediately establishes the highly charged atmosphere in Dima El-Horr’s carefully controlled first feature, filled with absurd moments and symbolic gestures. Three women (Hiam Abbass, Manal Khader, Raïa Haïdar) with very different motives board a bus on the Lebanese Day of Liberation to visit their husbands in jail. When the bus is stopped short by a stray bullet, the women are left to find their own way in the hot sun through mountains full of mines, amid sounds of muffled explosions, throngs of refugees, and rumors of massacres. Their perilous journey becomes an internal one towards liberation, as individual life and collective memory blend, and the personal and political are blurred. [Synopsis provided by New Directors/New Films]

Editor’s Note: This is one interview in a series profiling directors whose films are screening at the 2010 New Directors/New Films Festival.

“Every Day is a Holiday”
Director: Dima-El-Horr
Screenplay: El-Horr, Rabih Mroue
Cast: Hiam Abbass, Manal Khader, Raia Haidar.
Producer: Thierry Lenouvel
Co-producers: Sabine Sidawi-Hamdan, Hanneke M. van der Tas, Nicole Gerhards.
Cinematography: Dominique Gentil
Editor: Kassem Hatoum
80 Minutes

Director Dima El-Horr on her background in filmmaking…

I earned an MFA in Filmmaking from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and teach cinema at the Lebanese American University in Lebanon. I directed three short films, which have been presented in numerous festivals including Clermont-Ferrand, San Francisco, Ann Arbor, Hong Kong, London, and Rome, and received many awards. “Every Day is a Holiday,” my first full-length feature, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.

El-Horr on the truth behind her film…

Writing this film meant no cheating. The authenticity of my work is rooted in the daily life of a country whose sociopolitical conjuncture is alienating. My life experience imposed itself as a necessity and a prerequisite to speak about the daily life of others. So it became necessary for me to confront my own reality. This profoundly introspective experience allowed me to confront certain obsessions caused by years of war and to become aware of the violence of their impact.

I wanted essentially to speak about things very deeply buried within me, that constitute who I am. I have heard too many times that in order to live better it is preferable to forget. But we have to face the fact that reality is entirely different! Knowing how to accept confrontation is a path towards understanding. This pursuit is what guides the story and the characters of my film.

And on her inspirations…

I’m mostly influenced by everything that I lay my eyes on…from the world that surrounds me, to the books I read, the paintings I see and the films I watch… but I love the work of Antonioni..

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