• Flash Competition


Amie Barouh

A heap of blankets filmed at bed-height emerges in a drab, colourless bedroom. A series of fragmented shots hints at the precarious conditions of the people living in the debris, on the margins. A prayer in Romanian tells us where they’re from. A plane crosses the sky and we find ourselves transported to a shimmering parade through the streets of Okinawa before landing at the home of a beekeeper in the French Pyrenees. In a kind of film diary, French-Japanese artist Amie Barouh brings together slivers of biography and snatches of conversations gathered over the years and during her travels, mostly with the Roma friends she lived with. With its frenetic editing, Shuruuk (which literally means ‘risen in the East’) weaves a dreamlike journey following the movement of the sun from Japan to Tunisia, from Palestine to the four corners of France. The camera pokes around in the folds of reality to capture the faces of the people the artist travels through life with, bearing witness to their struggle for daily survival as well as to more specific manifestations of state oppression. Barouh intertwines impressionistic flashes with jolts of a different gravity: sudden violent police interventions that become part of the film’s momentum, driven by an evident vitality. Shuruuk’s fragmentation reflects the perpetual reconfiguration to which the lives of all these creatures, human and animal, are subjected, like the swarming bees as Pierre Barouh’s tender words ring out: “Today I am what I am, we are who we are and all this is the sum of the pollen we’ve fed on”.

Louise Martin Papasian

Shuruuk is made up of a wide variety of images shot between 2018 and 2024. Where does this material come from? And what was the impetus for making this film?

I began the work for this film when I was artist in residence in Tunis at 32 bis, in April 2023, during which time I gathered my photos and writings from the previous five years. I would buy newspapers every day, including the daily paper “El Shuruuk”.
I began to rewrite the newspaper with my own stories and experiences, so it became a bit like a diary. Once back in Paris, I continued the process but with my film material. I began by logging everything I had shot over the previous five years when I had filmed on a daily basis. I noted repetitions and things that stood out, putting everything on a timeline to let the images coexist.
There was no particular impetus other than discovering the material I had filmed spontaneously for the most part, in order to understand it.

In this profusion of images, motifs and places dialogue and echo each other. What ideas, intuitions, or convictions guided you?

When I started logging, I created different colour-coded folders to classify my images according to their sensory atmosphere: red, fire – green on water – air – underwater black – dawn, and so on… Once I’d sorted everything, I was able to find a logical sequence that took shape all by itself, an evolving spiral that linked the images together. I edited using two screens, then, still on the same timeline, I observed what was being written and, little by little, I changed the order. Sometimes I would deconstruct and then reconstruct until it felt right.

The title has several meanings. Could you explain?

Firstly, it’s the name of the Tunisian newspaper “El Shuruuk”.
Secondly, the literal meaning of “Shuruuk” is sunrise in the east.
For me, the film is connected to dreams. It becomes a dream through the way it creates links, the way it gets lost in time and space, in colours and movements. This is an important aspect. I try to find precise connections and narratives that are not expressed in the first instance with words but rather with sensations. The sound is of course an important part of this work.
Before dawn is the time of dreams, whether you’re partying or sleeping. It’s an interlude in the endless race that is life; it’s survival.

Shuruuk opens in the intimate setting of a bedroom with children and ends in a hospital room where a young woman has just given birth. Could you tell us more about this space and its presence in these key moments of the film?

The moments that were selected for the film are those of people living with violence they didn’t choose. They have been dispossessed of their territory, and this situation makes them very vulnerable. They are not wanted by society, which forces them to live in the shadows. They are not harmful, but they are treated as though they were. Their very existence is an act of resistance.
And their moments of joy, when they come together as a family or to celebrate a marriage, are the only moments which can’t be taken from them.
The circus, in a way, represents that for me. We go to see superhumans defy the laws of gravity. For that matter, I see magic as an art that brings into question our beliefs.
The people I film, whom I have gotten to know over time, have offered me this magic, that of understanding that the way of perceiving taught to us by naturalist Western cosmology is not the only truth. There are several, and this binary world leaves no room for others.
This film sheds light on these worlds kept in the shadows and brings out their colours. I became aware of this dimension thanks to the Romani people. I lived with them in shantytowns for two years and learned their language and cosmology.
Since then, I’ve remained close to this culture which has given me the opportunity to expand my own. It’s by moving around the world, as one moves a cursor, to meet these people that I’ve been able to understand the reasons for this divide. Sharing the teachings that the Romani people have offered me is what motivates me to create.
The system that binds us makes no sense, even more so when we try to understand it.
Also, the nights when families can sleep in peace are a blessing, and dawn is a new birth for people who live like this, where every moment counts.

The film is also cadenced by the presence of a discreet musical composition. How did you weave it in with the images?

I encourage randomness with chaotic editing, keeping an eye out for potentially interesting associations. My sound editing, like the image editing, is very intuitive and impressionistic.
I work a lot with live sound and recordings on my phone. Once I had the film more or less in place, I used compositions by a Tunisian friend, Rami Harrarbi, who then mixed the film.

Interview by Louise Martin Papasian

  • Flash Competition
14:0027 June 2024La Baleine
09:3028 June 2024La Baleine
16:1529 June 2024Artplexe 2

Technical sheet

France, Germany / 2024 / Colour / 36'

Original version: Romanian, Arabic, Japanese, French, Romany, Kurdish
Subtitles: French, English
Script: Amie Barouh
Photography: Amie Barouh
Editing: Amie Barouh
Music: Rami Harrari, Marian Badoi, Mihai Pirvan
Sound: Rami Harrari, Pierre Carrasco, Amie Barouh
Cast: Heneko Blue, Mathias Barbaud, Les Tandereis Les Tandereis

Production: Narimane Mari (Centrale électrique), Corinne Castel, Amie Barouh (No company)
Contact: Narimane Mari (centrale electrique)

Filmography: Installation :
Contrechant – 2022 – 26′
Bari mageia – 2022 – 19′
Lost dog – 2020 – 11′
Je peux changer mais pas a 100% – 2019 – 41′