TRIPOLI CANCELLED

By Naeem MOHAIEMEN

BFI LONDON FILM FESTIVAL - as FEST

Historical - Completed 2017

A man follows a daily routine of walking, smoking, writing letters, staging scenes, and reading from a weathered copy of Watership Down. Gradually, we learn that his home (kingdom or prison) for the last decade is an abandoned airport, and witness his cycle of routine and realization.

    • Year of production
    • 2017
    • Genres
    • Historical, Science-fiction, Drama
    • Countries
    • GREECE, GERMANY, UNITED KINGDOM, BANGLADESH
    • Languages
    • ENGLISH
    • Duration
    • 95 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Naeem MOHAIEMEN
    • Synopsis
    • A man follows a daily routine of walking, smoking, writing letters, staging scenes, and reading from a weathered copy of Watership Down. Gradually, we learn that his home for the last decade is an abandoned airport, and witness his cycle of routine and realization. But is he a prisoner, or is it a voluntary home? There are no guards or fences, only a few mannequins in Olympic Airlines uniform, Melina Mercouri and Boney M songs, and letters to his wife that mix fantasy and despair. The film is shot in the Erno Saarinen designed International Terminal (1969, closed in 2001) of Hellinikon Airport in Greece. The script is loosely inspired by the experience of Naeem’s father, who was trapped in this same airport for nine days in 1977, after losing his passport in India. Departing from his usual nonfiction, essay film form, Naeem's first fiction film blurs the line between prisoner and king, in a merging of our epoch of migration with the post-Holocaust concept of "spectral human" (Hannah Arendt) and "Der Muselmänner" (Primo Levi, via Giorgio Agamben).

      Hellinikon Airport has been discontinued since 2001, and has been used recently as a temporary home for Syrian refugees. In 2016 it was announced that luxury real estate projects will be developed in the airport, as part of a privatization effort spurred by the EU debt renegotiation conditions after the Greek bailout crisis. Tripoli Cancelled now stands as a monument to an airport, and an ambitious post-war architecture, that in the future may not exist. The film’s Greek crew includes two nominees for Greek Academy Awards: actor Vassilis Koukalani (for AMERIKA SQUARE, 2016) and sound designer Kostas Filaktides (for SUNTAN, 2016).

      Naeem Mohaiemen, known for his film installations (2015 Venice Biennale), follows the path of visual artist Steve McQueen in moving to the cinema theatre. Commissioned by Documenta 14, co-commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation and Art Jameel.
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