Welcome to a new series here at Cinematical where we'll shine a spotlight on different films premiering at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival later this month.
Making her first trip to the Sundance Film Festival, director Zeina Durra continues to focus on post-9/11 themes in New York City in her debut feature film as writer-director, The Imperialists Are Still Alive! While her 2005 short film Seventh Dog took a somewhat comedic look at the way Arabs are treated in our post-9/11 society, The Imperialists Are Still Allive! expands upon similar themes as it follows the story of a French Manhattanite with Middle Eastern ties whose personal and political views are tested when her childhood friend goes missing.
Cinematical caught up with Durra to find out a touch more about the film before it premieres in the U.S. Dramatic Competition category at this year's Sundance Film Festival.
Cinematical: Give us the "dude on the street" description of your film.
Zeina Durra: It's a story about an artist living the downtown New York scene whose got Middle Eastern roots and who deals with her political legacy while falling in love and working and playing hard.
Cinematical: In terms of your own post-9/11 experiences in NY, what did you set out to give this film that we haven't already seen before?
Zeina Durra:I find it hard to separate the political from daily life as they are so intertwined in my experience and people who normally deal with this topic like to compartmentalize which I see as simplistic and untruthful. I wanted to focus on how surreal it was for people like me after 9/11. On the one hand we were making sandwiches for fireman on the West Side Highway and on the other we were trying to "act normal" going for dinner, all the while wondering in between bites of sushi whether someone was watching because who knew who was monitoring us or not.
Cinematical: What's one non film-related thing you plan to do while at the Sundance Film Festival?
Zeina Durra: Look for good snow accessories and snow boots!
Watch the trailer for The Imperialists Are Still Alive! over on the film's official website.
Synopsis from Sundance site:
A successful visual artist working in post-9/11 Manhattan, Asya lives the life of the hip and glamorous, replete with exclusive art parties, supermodels, and stretch limousines, while she carefully follows the situation in the Middle East on television. Out partying one night, Asya learns that her childhood friend, Faisal, has disappeared-the victim of a purported CIA abduction. That same night, she meets Javier, a sexy Mexican PhD student, and romance blossoms. Javier finds Asya's conspiracy theories overly paranoid-but nothing in Asya's world is as it seems.
Zeina Durra's atmospheric debut feature is a splendidly alluring and intelligent look at the way the war on terror seeps into the texture of everyday American life. Gorgeous 16 mm grain imbues the film with an anachronistic feel that interestingly evokes times past. The Imperialists Are Still Alive! is an exceptional work and heralds the arrival of Durra as an exciting new directorial talent.
For more on The Imperialists Are Still Alive, including screening times, check out the film's official page on the Sundance website.