Saif Alsaegh: Bittersweet Landscape

2018 - 2023 | TRT 29:00

Video Details
2018 | 00:12:00 | United States | Arabic, English | Color | Stereo | 16:9 | HD video

Through poetic juxtaposition of the virtual landscape of the phone, the calm landscape of the cabin, and the chaotic landscape of memory, 1991 paints a cruel image of the horror of war and separation.


Video Data Bank is pleased to present the VDB TV program Saif Alsaegh: Bittersweet Landscape. The program features three works by Saif Alsaegh that reflect on landscapes across memory, war-zones, and displacement—1991 (2018), Bitter with a Shy Taste of Sweetness (2019), and Bezuna (2023). Alsaegh is a United States-based filmmaker from Baghdad. Much of his work deals with the contrast between the landscape of his youth in Baghdad growing up as part of the indigenous Chaldean minority in the nineties and early 2000s, and the U.S. landscape where he currently lives. His films have screened in festivals including Cinéma du Réel, Kurzfilm Hamburg, Kassel Dokfest, Aesthetica Short Film Festival, and in galleries and museums including the Wisconsin Triennial at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art and Rochester Contemporary Art Center. He received his MFA in film from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

"I wanted to represent the contrast of worlds in my life through film, because the experience of these worlds was so visual to me. I couldn’t just film the Iraqi landscape, which I will probably never see again, and anyway I didn’t think that simply filming my life in either place would encompass the contrast I witnessed. I wanted to show on screen the dislocation of diaspora, the vividness of survival, the surreal nature of these experiences, so I never wanted to use normal modes of cinematic representation. I wanted to create moving image poetry with calm and chaotic visuals that make the viewer uncomfortable." — Saif Alsaegh

Read more in our interview VDB Asks... Saif Alsaegh.

This VDB TV program is presented alongside the release of a new title by Alsaegh, The Motherfucker's Birthday.