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Istishara

Serra Toni | Abu Ali


Istishara is made of dreams, or, more precisely, of words and faces that speak of dreams. A series of characters are shown on screen telling us about the one dream that they have never been able to forget, the one that, once awake, leaves a mark on our conscience, a mark that will never leave us, that will always be with us, a mark that some times will turn up to warn us, while others it will help us escape; a mark, in short, that will teach us to look at life differently.

This video, produced with great simplicity and a sense of familiarity with the spectator, comprises a number of passages (interviews with different people) strung together with fades-to-black and transitory images of such simplicity that they manage to reveal to us the poetic dimension of our whole life and of those elements around us that shape it. The material of which dreams are made of seems to be moulding the surface of this video as well, as our fears, satisfactions, desires, symbols, metaphors and signs, are gathered on it.

One of the first persons to be interviewed, after he has finished telling us about a dream in which he is riding a winged mule capable of flying, adds a comment that his mother made to him when he, still a small child, told her about the dream: “that’s a good dream, son, it means that you are searching for life”.

She might be right, and life might be just that, to fly over time. This video opens the doors to be able to think life in these terms.

In Istishara dreams are treated as a passage between parallel worlds. What Serra has undoubtedly managed to do here remarkably well is to have both worlds coincide on the same level, thereby generating countless new interpretations; to create a new terrain within which to look for ourselves and be able to better understand what our pleasures, fears and desires, our imaginaries, are made of.

“Give me your hand and nothing will happen to you”, says another woman, when she starts to tell us about the dream that has had the most lasting effect on her, a dream in which her husband shows up in order to protect her. Another woman talks about her deceased father: “he called me: my daughter, take this flower and give it to your uncle, and tell him to come, that his place is right here, next to mine”. My uncle died on Friday - she adds-. In his book Shapes of beauty, the 12th Century Persian writer Najmudin Kubra, writes: “Dream is the brother of death”. This is a truth that seems to guide the 14 minutes of this video.

Right before the end of the piece, a man narrates the following dream: “I was fleeing my house, I was a very small child, and when I reached the stairway landing I found Pegasus as it was opening up its wings before me. At that moment I was burning with the desire to ride it, so I jumped on top of it, and we took off, breaking the window and flying into the sky”.

If we look closely at this video, we may realise that Pegasus is likewise waiting for us to ride it, to fly us far away, as far away as the fusion of the dreams narrated and our own, allow us.

Technical datasheet

  • Title: Istishara
  • Direction: Serra Toni | Abu Ali
  • Production: Me Pierdo Productions. 2003.
  • Duration: 00:15:30
  • Languages: Arabic - Spanish
  • Subtitles: English - French - Spanish
  • Original format: Mini DV
  • Formats: Betacam Digital - DVD
  • TV systems: PAL
  • License: Copyright