Teta, Alf Marra (Grandma, A Thousand Times) by Mahmoud Kaabour
My first glimpse of Teta, Alf Marra (Grandma, A Thousand Times) was in February this year, when its director, Mahmoud Kaabour gave us a sneak preview of this film which he was still working on at the time.
If you are attending either of those festivals, please do go and watch it and I'm sure it will be screened at more festivals soon and hopefully in our local cinemas as well.
Teta, Alf Marra is a poetic documentary that puts a feisty Beiruti grandmother at the centre of brave film exercises concocted by her grandson to capture and commemorate her many worlds before they are erased by the passage of time and her eventual death.
Teta Kaabour is an 83-year old family matriarch and sharp-witted queen bee of an old Beiruti quarter. She’s been gripped as of late by the silence of her once-buzzing household where she raised children and grandchildren. Resigned to Argileh smoking and day-long coffee drinking on a now-empty balcony, Teta now invokes the deepest memories of her violinist husband who died twenty years ago. She claims a preparedness to re-unite with him.
Filmmaker Mahmoud Kaabour, Teta’s favorite grandson and the bearer of his grandfather’s full name, has also been pre-occupied for years with the memory of his grandfather. Prior to his death, the late violinist had audio taped heart-wrenching violin improvisations in the privacy of his room in that same flat. That music, along with the details of his long career playing with the Arab world’s most famous divas, remains unpublished. The filmmaker’s anguish is compounded at the thought that this personal and cultural heritage, as well as grandma’s own stories, rare recipes, and naughty humour, will go with her when she parts this life.