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Sabir

Guez's camera captures the setting sun on a beach in the port city of Jaffa. The lull of waves accompanies Samira Monayer's narration of her childhood years in pre-1948 Jaffa, where she could walk just “100 steps to the Mediterranean” from her family home. As Samira’s story unfolds, we hear how her family fled coastal Jaffa to al-Lydd, seeking refuge from the 1948 war; how they hid in the Church of St. George; and how they eventually received Israeli citizenship. Throughout her monologue, Samira seamlessly shifts back and forth between her native Arabic and fluent Hebrew. Her bilingual facility relates to the title of the piece, sabir—a word derived from the Latin verb “to know”—denoting the lingua franca spoken in Mediterranean ports from the time of the Crusades to the eighteenth century. The sun’s slow descent into the sea serves as a visual marker of passing time, fusing her recollections and losses with the disappearing light.

Video, 19:37 minutes, 2011.