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Eating Grass

Alia Syed

UK, 2003
23 minutes, Colour, Opt.
Available formats: 16mm / DVD / Digibeta tape / SD Digital file

‘The title of this film actually refers to president Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto’s response to India’s explosion of a nuclear device in the early 1970s: He promised the Pakistani people that they too would have their own nuclear weapon even if it meant ‘eating grass.’ This film is a personal and almost psychological inversion of a post-nuclear landscape that spans the (middle-) east and the west. The film fuses, in a precipitous moment, a kalaedescope of past and present, the personal and the beautiful in colours of red, gold, purple, white and deep indigo. Her film-making could be compared to that of Marguerite Duras or the writing of Virginia Woolf. Alia Syed crafts the film poetically, creating a mesh of five stories emerging from London, Karachi and Lahore. Shadows trigger memories, memories relate to the times of day, the times of day to Muslim prayer… Very much a meditative film that places the beauty of fleeting experience above all else: its joys are not of conventional storytelling. This film relishes in the sites and materials from which it was made: a buzzing market in Karachi, a wet London city street, flowing material. It fascinates with how the photographs ‘move,’ and how the colours dance. It compels with its transformation of real moments in the past: captured, reproduced, layered and arranged. Syed’s skills in cinematography and editing are magic. The film is slick, startling and delicious.’ – Emma Field