Wednesday, June 16, 2010

You're Free

There must be a story behind the choice of Escualo to accompany the action in today's video: a short film by Amal Abou-Setta titled You're Free. How did Amal Abou-Setta, a Writing Instructor in the Rhetoric and Composition Department at the American University in Cairo, come to know that song? Why did she choose it out of the millions of songs in our world? Her public Facebook page suggests her favorite musician is Ahmed El Nasser but I find no hints that Ahmed El Nasser is a Piazzolla fan. It appears that our only hope for resolving this mystery is a response from Ms. Abou-Setta herself.

It is an inspired choice. Escualo (the title translates to Shark) was composed in 1979 and is one of the most rhythmically challenging of Piazzolla's works. There is a constant uncertainty in the resolution of the rhythm - a feeling of unease is created in the listener. Perhaps the same feeling that Ms. Abou-Setta was aiming to create in her video.

There are two copies of the video posted below. They are identical except the second version contains English subtitles. If you are a non-Arabic speaker, I encourage you to watch the first one to see if you can interpret the message of the video from the actions of the actors and the music alone - then watch the second to see if you are correct. You may also be interested in her second video, Running all the way, which requires no subtitles and in an interview that Ms. Abou-Setta gave on Egyptian television (sorry, no English subtitles available on this one).

Note added on 17 June, 2010: After you view the videos, be sure and read the comment posted below the videos. Ms. Abou-Setta explains exactly how she came to choose Escualo for her video.

If the videos do not appear below, click here for the Arabic version and here for the English subtitle version.

To learn more about Piazzolla videos, visit the Piazzolla Video site.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Don,

    Thank you very much for your interest in my movies. I was thrilled to read your blog.

    My two movies were the products of a 3-month filmmaking workshop I attended at the American University in Cairo. Finding suitable music for both movies was not an easy task. I listened to tons of pieces but they just didn't match the content and intended mood. I searched the Arabic music especially the pieces by Omar Khairat, my favorite musician and composer (Ahmed El Nasser is the percussion player in Khairat's band). Omar Khairat's pieces are very stimulating and expressive. Unfortunately, though, I couldn't find anything that could work. I also searched the western classical and contemporary music. Just when I was about to lose hope, the workshop facilitator gave me a few suggestions, among which was Piazzolla's Escualo. I have to say she strongly recommended it. I listened to a number of her recommended pieces, but could almost instantly sense that Escualo was the answer. As you mentioned, it was the uncertainty and unease and the tension they created that I felt would give the movie its desired flavor. Doing the final editing was very enjoyable. The way the musical sentences perfectly matched the escalating tension (at least from my point of view!) was reassuring. I also had to slightly edit the musical piece to suit the rhythm of the movie ... I have to say it was a fulfilling experience on both the personal and professional levels.

    Thanks again,
    Amal :)