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Borrowing a Family Album

Film still from Tamer El Said’s „Borrowing a Family Album“. Three marginally different pictures next to each other. A child with a grown-up person on its right in slightly different focuses.
© Tamer El Said
  • Director

    Tamer El Said

  • Egypt / 2023
    25 min. / 6-channel video installation / Without dialogue

“I was four or five years old when I woke up one morning, and my sister, Eman, wasn’t there. Not only did her toys, bed, and clothes disappear, but her name also vanished along with our family photo albums. Later, I was not sure anymore if I had ever had a sister at all or if I had made up all the memories that kept haunting me after I saw that girl once in an old movie. To bring my doubts to an end, I chose to believe my sister was the fearless girl who saved her father in Kamal El Sheikh’s classic film, LIFE OR DEATH. I was relieved and enjoyed inventing new memories with her. We visited new places with my family, played together by the sea, and roamed the city on fantastic adventures.
I was 14 when a relative accidentally mentioned my sister’s death in front of me for the first time since she had disappeared. That day, I finally became certain of her existence, but I’ve never been able to tell which of my memories with her were true and which were fictional.
In 2022, I saw amateur film footage from the Rigopolous Family collection. It was shot mainly by Georgios Rigopoulos in Athens and the Cyclades Islands in Greece between 1966 and 1968. Could images of places I never saw as a child help me to retrieve a disoriented memory? Could we explore stories about ourselves in memories belonging to people we never met?
The participatory archive-based installation invites visitors to take part in the reminiscence of family memories.” Tamer El Said

Production Tamer El Said. Production company Tamer El Said (Cairo, Egypt) in collaboration with Syros International Film Festival (Syros, Greece). Director Tamer El Said. Cinematography Georgios Rigopoulos. Editing Tamer El Said, Omar Ali. Sound design Youssra El Hawary. Associate producer Jacob Moe. Technical supervisor Omar Ali. Line producer Mikaela Popovic. Research Hanin Tarek, Hana Al Bayaty.

Tamer El Said is a filmmaker and producer living in Berlin and Cairo. His filmography includes 17 films that have received many regional and international awards. He founded Zero Production in 2007 to produce independent films in Egypt. In 2011, he co-founded Cimatheque – Alternative Film Centre in Cairo, a multi-purpose space that offers facilities, training, and programming for the independent filmmaking community. His debut feature-length film, AKHER AYAM EL MADINA (In the Last Days of the City), premiered at the Forum 2016, where it received the Caligari Film Prize.

Films: 1994: 18 September (12 min.). 1995: Charlie (8 min.). 1996: Like a Feather (12 min.). 1997: Music of the Nets (26 min.). 1998: Crisscross (20 min.). 2004: Take Me (53 min.). 2005: On a Monday (7 min.). 2016: Akher ayam el madina / In the Last Days of the City (118 min., Forum 2016). 2020: One Sunny Day in April (2 min.), As You Lay in Your Grave (3 min.). 2023: Borrowing a Family Album.

Bonus Material

Portrait of Tamer El Said holding a microphone

Tamer El Said

“The idea was to create a sense of déjà-vu.”

Shai Heredia talks with artist Tamer El Said

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Funded by:

  • Logo Minister of State for Culture and the Media
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