If I were a judge for crimes against humanity, I would consider Ghiath Ayoub and Saeed Al Batal’s Still Recording an incredibly precious document.
If I were a reporter, I would quote it as a brilliant example of immersive journalism.
If I were a young bohemian, I would take the (almost exclusively male) protagonists as true heroes.
If I were an accidental viewer of documentaries, I would be strongly struck by the screening, while still feeling a bit frustrated by not getting any information about the broader political context that is responsible for all of this.
If I were a humanist, I would be emphatically impressed by the protagonists but would finally get a very pessimistic view on human beings, so fuelling my fear and personal need for security.
If I were a seller of cultural products, I would highly appreciate the shocking force of the film and try to exploit it.
If I were used to seeing many documentaries on war situations, I would cast some doubts on the film’s defence of the “right cause”, and on the sharp distinction between good and evil.
If I were a political theorist, I would point at the risk of overloading the viewer with intense emotions without using this moment as a call for responsible action.
If I were a film editor, I would simply say: «chapeau!».
If I were a film critic, I would like to ask the director why he did not expand more self-critically on the idea of the camera as a weapon.
If I were a media theorist, I would ask myself whether the need to witness the violence of the war would not ultimately imply the images being – at least partially – the trigger of the violence itself.
If I were a bad-tempered philosopher, I would reflect on the attraction of pornography in journalism-oriented filmmaking.
Nevertheless, insofar as I am a good-tempered philosopher, I would in any case say that Still Recording has the virtue to push each viewer to interrogate themselves on their own position and role.
Text: Giuseppe Di Salvatore
First published: March 13, 2019
Still Recording | Film | Ghiath Ayoub, Saeed Al Batal | LEB 2018 | 123’ | International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights (FIFDH) Geneva 2019
Audience Award and FIPRESCI Award at Venice Critics’ Week 2018
Special Mention at Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival 2018
Screenings at FIFDH Genève 2019