Kuala Lumpur
Architecture Festival 2018
TASTE OF CEMENT

A portrait of workers in exile. An empathetic encounter with people who have lost their past and their future, locked in the recurring present. Production in Germany, Lebanon, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Qatar.

Ziad Kalthoum creates a powerful essay of Syrian construction workers building new skyscrapers in Beirut on the ruins caused by the Lebanese civil war. At the same time their own houses are being bombed in Syria. The Lebanese war is over but the Syrian one still rages on. The workers are locked in the building site. They are not allowed to leave it after 7p.m. The Lebanese government has imposed night-time curfews on the refugees. The only contact with the outside world for these Syrian workers is the hole through which they climb out in the morning to begin a new day of work. Cut off from their homeland, they gather at night around a small TV set to get the news from Syria. Mute and imprisoned in the cement underground, they must endure until the new day arrives where the hammering and welding drowns out their nightmares. Tormented by anguish and anxiety, while suffering the deprivation of the most basic human and workers right, they keep hoping for a different life.

ZIAD KALTHOUM is a Syrian filmmaker currently living in Berlin. He was born in Homs in 1981 and holds a degree in film studies. In first documentary OH MY HEART (2009) he portrayed a group of Kurdish women, who have chosen to live in a society without men. The film was banned from screening in Syria due to political reasons. In 2012, during the outbreak of the Syrian revolution, he began working on his first feature film THE IMMORTAL SEARGANT while serving a compulsory military service. The film had its premiere at the Locarno Film Festival in 2014. In 2015, he won the BBC Arabic Festival in the ‘Best Feature Documentary category. 

Refusing to fight his own people, he deserted from the Syrian Army in 2013 and fled to Beirut where he started to work on TASTE OF CEMENT. The film has been traveling to festivals around the world and has won various awards, among them the Golden Sesterce for Best Feature Documentary at Visions du Réel in 2017.

 

 

 

REM

Feature documentary, a film about Rem Koolhaas, arguably the world's current most influential living architect, by his son Tomas Koolhaas. Shot in the Netherlands and various international locations.

Architecture is usually filmed from the outside, as an inanimate object. The few depictions of interiors are usually limited to still or static images of an empty building, reducing it to no more than an icon or sculpture. REM uses an unconventional approach by combining the human stories and experience of both the architect and the users of his architecture. 

The film explores Rem's life, working methods, philosophy and internal landscape, from a never seen perspective of intimacy and immediacy. The result is having the feeling of being 'inside' his head. This perspective allows the viewer to understand Rem's 'ideas' as intellectual concepts but the viewer also sees these ideas in practice - the reality on the ground. They see how these ideas come to fruition in concrete and metal. The film shows how these structures, some massive and some small, dotted all around the globe, affect every aspect of the lives of the people that build them, use them and live inside them.

TOMAS KOOLHAAS was born in London on April 16th 1980. In London, he worked at MTV UK and for TANK magazine where he was exposed to production, editing and experimental artistic photography techniques for the first time. With these two very different creative experiences ruminating, Tomas moved to Los Angeles to study cinematography. Tomas secured his first feature film job as a cinematographer straight out of film school. In the following twelve years Tomas worked all over the world but mainly in Hollywood shooting projects of all descriptions and types: art films, music videos, short films, narrative features and documentaries. REM is Tomas's first foray as a feature film director.