Yallah! Underground

Farid Eslam
2015 | 85 mins
Countries of Production: Multiple
Countries Featured: Multiple
NY Premiere
Saturday, October 15 | 8:30 pm | Program F28

Through exuberant performances and heartfelt interviews, this film goes deep into the world of alternative Arab music before and during the upheavals of the Arab Spring. Singers, rockers, rappers, and music producers from Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, and Palestine grapple with conditions out of step with the freedom they seek—to make music in their own way without fear of repression by political or religious authorities. They seem driven less by anger than longing, while also aware of the power of music to transform. As one Ramallah musician puts it, “A bullet would make big sound, a song would make bigger, so I think it’s just switching from a gun to a guitar but the aim is the same.”

Co-presented by the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies, NYU and Human Rights Watch Film Festival

Plays with Thiaroye by the Sea 

Re:Frame, My Perspective

“The process of creating a frame to me is always a very personal one. It cannot be separated from your own personal taste, opinions, or agenda. However, it is only a frame. The content within this frame is very often the result of a collaboration of more people than only the filmmaker and his initial agenda. Of course, I as a filmmaker always do have a certain vision in my mind and I try to achieve this vision. But especially when making a documentary I have to keep an open mind to what my counterpart might bring to the table. Only by being able to react to what happens during the process of filming can I create something real and refrain from creating some sort of egocentric propaganda piece.”

—Farid Eslam | Director, Yallah Underground