Author:

Jessica Jacobs


Title:

Visualising the Past, Rebranding the Present IV: Bitter Coffee


Year of production:

2009-10


Language:

English


Video length:

12:38 minutes



Description:

The following films were created from 100 inteviews with heritage ‘ stakeholders’s in Amman and Damascus in 2009-10 for an ESRC-funded research project examining the colonial modernities of the two cities. Each film covers a different theme of the relationship between cultural identity and heritage tourism and is edited using a different filmic style in order to examine how the way we produce knowledge affects the knowledge that is produced. In this way I aimed to show how filmmaking as a form of ethnography can help us do the following:
1. Reflect back on our research methods as researchers and how the methods we choose influence the knowledge we produce
2. Interrogate the mechanisms of representation within contemporary heritage discourse from the position of the knowledge producer and the intended audience.

IV. Bitter Coffee – Highlighting the impact of film as collaboration via the ‘match cut’. Sequences of formal, officebased interviews with state representatives are intercut with noisy in-situ commentaries from Zaher’s friends, colleagues and neighbours in the Old City. The film cuts from the Minister of Tourism (in front of a portrait of President Assad) telling us ‘tourism is an image’ to a man selling bird seed to young Syrian couples who believe feeding pigeons in front of the Omayyad Mosque will help them conceive. Sound edits stray into the next scene so that banging from a metalwork shop resonates into the next scene where a retired French lighting engineer shows us his beautiful restored house in Nofara (a quarter in the Old City).