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90 min. Arabic, English, German, French.

This is the third part of Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri’s attempt to revisit and unwork Anastas’s film initiated in 2007, which sought to translate and put into play Nietzsche’s “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” onto the contemporary Arab World. Rather than merely adapt or restage the ideas from this seminal work, the film instead continues an expanded effort to rethink life and art today through this encounter between gestures, insights, visions, prophecies drawn to this proper name Nietzsche and certain conditions, questions, afflictions attributed to territories demarcated as Arab. The film defies categorization, as it is neither essay nor performance, neither documentary nor fiction; it is instead an attempt at a clearing for something which is refused and refuses a designated place, people, time – yet it is what is most desired.
*This film is enacted and edited in simultaneity with its screening. And for this reason the two screenings will diverge considerably.
**The silent green edition can be considered an appendix to the film that will be screened at Arsenal. For the first time, the artists will attempt to make visible and give an account of this way of simultaneously making and unmaking film.
***In one of the notebooks covering the period just after completing his Zarathustra, Nietzsche writes what seems an untimely impression of BORN OF THE * * * : Let us be suspicious of all seeming “simultaneity”! Time fragments insert themselves here, which can only be called small according to a crude standard, e.g., our human standard of time; but in abnormal circumstances, e.g., as hashish smokers or in a moment of life-threatening danger, even we humans have a sense of how in one second of our pocket watch a thousand thoughts can be thought, a thousand experiences experienced. When we open our eyes the visible world stands there apparently immediately: but in the meantime something tremendous has happened, multifarious things have occurred: – first second third: but here the physiologists should speak.

Original quote from: Friedrich Nietzsche. Nachlaß 1884 – 1885, Kritische Studienausgabe in 15 Bänden, Band 11 (August–September 1885), ed. Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari, de Gruyter: Berlin/New York 1967.

Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri distrust the biographical. The tendency of the biography to veer toward a specific form of identity and life, in which the potency of living and writing devolve into fulfilling a function. Released momentarily from this function, whatever could be called the coefficient of art or poetry, would allow even a biography to say something other than its predetermined genre, to avoid a fate built into the category. What would a biography be if the subject or subjects it purports to describe were unhinged from the restrained logic of interiority/exteriority, cause/effect, will/action, origin/finality? Leaving aside momentarily the embarrassment induced by “success,” this biography may ask “what is an accomplishment in a life?” and “does it reside with and is it attributable to the person?” Where do the conditions of support, the air, the water, the diet, the historic, social, political, and geographic forces come to play? And what if life is perceived as a weaving of events, dashes, jottings, becomings, moments where something may come to existence momentarily or burst the buttresses of recognition, rather than be seen as a monotonous continuous line of narrative with that depressing arc of a beginning then a middle, concluding with an end? A biography, short as this, may not answer these questions, but its refusal to fulfill its objective already clears it as potential space of revocation.

Production Ayreen Anastas, Rene Gabri, Rrose Sélavy. Production company Parks Luksemburg (Bethlehem, Palestine). Written and directed by Ayreen Anastas, Rene Gabri. Cinematography Ayreen Anastas, Rene Gabri. Editing Ayreen Anastas, Rene Gabri. Music Ayreen Anastas, Rene Gabri. Sound design Ayreen Anastas, Rene Gabri. Sound Ayreen Anastas, Rene Gabri. Production design Ayreen Anastas, Rene Gabri. Casting Ayreen Anastas, Rene Gabri. Executive producers Ayreen Anastas, Rene Gabri. With Ayreen Anastas, Rene Gabri.


1996: Less Confused Than I Was, More Confused Than I Should Be. 1997: The City and Memory. 1998: Borderline. 1999: Self Portrait Video, Dating Videos, Splendor in the Grass Revisited. 2001: Artistalk, Movements. 2002: Confession Tapes, Music Videos, Love and Suicide, Library of Useful Knowledge. 2003: What is Sixteen Beaver? (with Pedro Lasch), M* of Bethlehem. 2004: Know Fundamentalism, Eden Resonating, Istanbul, Why?. 2005: Pasolini Pa* Palestine, 7 X 77 (9 min.), Nyctalopia (with e-Xplo). 2006: All Strayed and Were Incapable of Using, The Loneliest One, Good Architecture, We Accepted the Misfortune But Misfortune Didn't Accept Us, What Everybody Knows, Nicest Life, Nicest Food, Nicest Water, Building Vacancy Maps, Valley of the Graces, What Has Passed. 2008: The Meaning of Everything, Thus I spoke and ever so softly for I feared my thoughts and hinter thoughts. 2009: case sensitive america, Die Vant. 2010: testing nothing in a little room is the way to use the room and nothing is then lost and that is such a correction (Forum Expanded 2010), After all these introductions I wish to say something, Kindred Spirits, Project for a Revolution in New York, Some People Have the Watch: Others Have the Time. 2011: January 28, 2011. 2012: Chronique d'un film with François Bucher, The Line is My Line and the Word is Mine, I want to go without you: fiction in the absence of proper names, Strike Film with The Indivisible or Inadmissable Committee. 2013: A Continuous Film Altered Daily: Days 1-12. 2014: A Geography of Palestine or The Storyteller, When we act or undergo, we must always be worthy of what happens to us, Bouazizi's Neighbor, Something for All the World, My Body and Mind is the World Too. 2015: Notes Toward a New Theory of the Arabesque, They Went Away to Stay with Ben Morea, In the Presence of Absence, In the Absence of Objects Seen. 2017: We Refugees, And You, What Do You Seek?. 2018: An Untimely Film For Every One and No One (Forum Expanded 2018). 2019: Outlines for a Communist Museum in Palestine · A Thanksgiving Prayer (Forum Expanded 2019). 2020: Born of the *  *  * : On Zarathustra’s Going Under from Cairo to Oran.

Twelve Preparatory Notes for our Film with Zarathustra and Nietzsche

There is no Zarathustra or Nietzsche as such. They are ciphers, headings, suggestions – if not incoherent sometimes, at least inconsistent and contradictory; having given and having left certain suggestions, traces of their existence … utterances, texts, … we are left with a question concerning what we would like to do with them, or what do they do to us, how to use them? What do they help us do, undo, say, unsay today, ‘now’.

If there are any Nietzshean operations – which of them resonate for us and which among them allow themselves to be put into play in art and film.

We are not attempting to adapt Zarathustra to film or even projecting it into the ‘Arab World’ as much as we are attempting to put them into a more intense contact to see what may unfold:

Nietzsche + Cinema + Al A’alam Al Arabi (le Monde Arabe) = Z

To stage, to construct an encounter, a meeting, a situation.

To think through or with Nietzsche today is also to confront the great reach and impact he had on 20th century thought, which in turn has left its mark on us. To look for these marks with the meticulousness of an archeologist and the playfulness of a gay scientist.

What was it that Nietzsche opened for thinkers, artists and political actors of varying colors, persuasions, projects, struggles?

If, for Nietzsche, life has been accused judged and condemned [nihilism]; in short, denied; then, surely, [what is life, what is it to live, is it to affirm what is lived] what is at stake in life, in living, inhabits the center of our film.

But it should be asserted that the nihilism that Nietzsche meant to confront was not a specific brand, strain, mode of thinking or philosophy; it is, as our friend GD asserted, metaphysics – all which depreciates life in the name of a supra sensible world:

“He does not make nihilism a historical event, it is rather the element of history as such, the motor of universal history … The meaning of history which at one time found its most adequate manifestation in Christianity … We cannot even say nihilism and its forms are categories of thought … of reasonable thought – identity, causality, finality – themselves presuppose an interpretation of force which is that of re-sentiment.”


“The instinct of revenge has gained such a hold on humanity over centuries that the whole of metaphysics, psychology, history and above all morality bear it’s imprint. As soon as man began thinking he introduced the bacillus of revenge into things.”

GD continues:
“The spirit of revenge is the genealogical element of our thought, the transcendental principle of our way of thinking.”

Thus to struggle against the nihilism and the spirit of revenge =

“… the end of metaphysics, the end of history as history of man, the transformation of the sciences [which has opposed knowledge to life]”

What is a man if it would not accuse or depreciate existence… still a man?

For Nietzsche, the aim of philosophy: the freeing of thought from nihilism and it’s various forms.
To have “ressentiment” or not to have “ressentiment” – that is the difference.

Along these lines we could then ask within, through the film, what is a life no longer opposed, blamed, judged erroneous by knowledge. What is thinking when it is finally able to think not in terms of “ressentiment,” bad conscience?

A new thinking-living-art, affirmative, no longer guilty of existing. And if there is a question of will and willing – it is the will to live, to life, “believing in the innocence of the future and the past, to believe in the eternal return.”

What is an art that does not deny life and chance: the dice throw. To will, to live, to create, and GD adds that Nietzsche’s glad tidings are ‘tragic thought.’ For Nietzsche:

Tragic = the Joyful

“Affirmation is tragic because it affirms chance and the necessity of chance, because it affirms multiplicity and the unity of multiplicity.”

“All the rest is nihilism, Christian and dialectic pathos caricatures of the tragic, comedy of bad conscience.”

In this way, we must ask with our film, how much ressentiment and bad conscience remain in our thinking living, art, … the ascetic ideal, the spirit of revenge, … do they continue to be at work … operative?

Are we able to also avoid immersing ourselves in the mystical body where ressentiment takes route; that is, interiority [the spider].

How to make art rid of this interiority, no longer drawing on needing, anguish, guilt, wailing, … all the forms of dissatisfaction.

Remember leaping is not dancing, betting is not playing [overcoming, going beyond]. Said in another manner, through such a way of making and unmaking film, we have managed to discover another game, another way of playing. We have managed to make chaos an object of affirmation [instead of positing it as something to be denied]. This could then be a “touchstone” of a difference between making a film on Nietzsche and making a film with him.

Photo: © Ayreen Anastas, Rene Gabri

Funded by:

  • Logo Minister of State for Culture and the Media
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