SAMT is my latest creation; it is an animated short that raises the timely question of freedoms in the Arab world, and the repression thereof. It mainly deals with the topic of freedom of expression through movement. Whether it is the freedom of speech and ideas, or the freedom of being different and choosing a diverse path to the established status quo – SAMT touches on the wider reality of a rising Arab youth who have inherited decayed political, social, and economic systems, and who have found a way to express their voices through the recent uprisings that are still shaking the region in the hope of a better future.
The city where the story takes place is called "Ghabra" which it the Arabic word for "Dust"
Here are some layouts of the city; it is a mixtures of different references I gathered from Beirut, Marrakesh, Damascus and Aleppo, Cairo and Jerusalem.
SAMT can mean ‘silence’ in Arabic. But the richness of the Arabic language has a milder word for that, which could be ‘soukout’. Therefore, in the broader sense, SAMT takes a stronger meaning here, one of muteness, conveyed by the general absence of speech in the movie – and broken through a single sound to rise against it. It explores the absence of freedoms in a repressive system where there is no room for freedom of ideas, of movement, of choice, in a monochrome world where colors (differences) are prohibited.
Here is a sample of Ghabra city from the movie:
Another nuance is that silence or ‘noiselessness’ can mean calm, peace and quiet. But SAMT is intended to portray the meaning of ‘silence’ as it is lived and experienced by the Arab youth: a perpetual censorship, be it formal or socially imposed. With retrospective, I realize that with SAMT I naturally treated a subject that conveyed a deeply rooted rebellion against a crippling system. SAMT was a direct result of how I perceived things, an expression of the plight that all of us living in the Arab world share to various degrees, and which became, unexpectedly so, headline news nowadays: The ‘Arab spring’ and the need for freedoms, expression being one of those freedoms, and so versatile.
A character preview from the short movie – the movie's opening and the presentation of the plot is conveyed through her… so for me she is quite an important character.
The protagonists in SAMT live in a bubble as well. Of course the metaphor, thank to the magic of animation, can be stretched to the edges of imagination. Without pointing fingers, it denounces a general and failed ecosystem, and carries a universal message. It is suitable for all ages, genders and backgrounds. It is silent in word, but dense in sound (effects and music) giving it a more universal touch. This little movie is a metaphor about freedoms of expression (music, movement etc.) and the acceptance of the different other (beyond mere diversity of creed) and a hymn to pluralism in the Arab world and the right to exist in those differences, with a pinch of “joie de vivre”.
As a last image for now, it is fair to introduce the Hero of the short movie "Leil", through whom the story unfolds.
SAMT is a work in progress short movie. Thanks to the help of AFAC, I am now able to finalize it;
Soon it will be out and running in festivals. Will be posting some more images later on!
Cheers for all animation lovers!!!