Cultural Writing. Middle Eastern Studies. Religious Studies. ASHURA is largely made up of photographs or video stills of Ashura, the ceremony of self-flagellation and bloodletting performed by some Twelver Shi'ites to mark their wait for the coming of a twelfth imam. Blood literally soaks these men, the floor, the street, their sneakers, and Toufic's lens does not blink. Meanwhile his thoughts on the cultural and philosophic implications of the ritual, strangely cool and confident against a background of such ecstatic religious fervor, reframes everything from film to Islam to Toufic himself. Toufic writes: "Al-Husayn, the grandson of the prophet Muhammad and the son of the first Shi'ite imam, 'Ali, was slaughtered alongside many members of his family in the desert in 680. This memory is torture to me. But, basically, one can say "this memory is torture to me" of every memory, since each reminiscence envelops at some level the memory of the origin of memory..."
Jalal Toufic is a writer, film theorist, and video artist who is currently Head of the MA program in Film/Video Studies at the Department of Visual and Performing Arts, Holy Spirit University, Lebanon. Author City: USA