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the director about the film

Being forced to react to certain situations or stereotypes, by either rebelling or disengaging rather than being free to create one’s own acts, resonates on different levels for me. Perhaps this is why I empathize with the characters in my film as they attempt to progress in spite of the inertia generated by political, social and cultural circumstances. My focus is not on the forces that cause this inertia, but on its impact and how the characters try to free themselves from its pull and to portray the moments of release. What unites them is much greater than what may divide them. Being able to communicate with each other is essential to their fight for freedom, which they cannot gain individually. In this film, we see the characters take the first steps together on the path to freeing themselves from the inertia that has come to define their lives.

I’ve always been wary of trying to fit a story into a specific political or social discourse. My films are devoid of definitive statements as I prefer to let my stories grow out of the existential situation of my characters as individuals. I also like to explore the similarities and affinities among characters of different cultural backgrounds, while downplaying their superficial differences. I try to elicit the viewers’ emotions without requiring them to be culturally oriented in a given way.  By communicating with my viewers using clear cinematic language I want them to engage directly with the film—in it they’ll find all the information and ambiance they need to “experience” it. Thus each scene is layered with many details not to deconstruct, but rather to build feeling into a scene. Even if a detail is missed, the mood is maintained, but not a message exposed. I believe such an approach solicits a more active involvement on the part of the viewer, while strengthening the film’s impact. The engaged viewer can no longer be a passive onlooker.

My focus in STANDSTILL is on its characters, as they attempt to move forward as individuals and the choices they make in the face of cultural and political forces. They search to find a direction and momentum that will grant a trajectory to their lives and release them from an imposed inertia that feels to them as heavy as fate: to kill, to abandon, to be alienated, or to come to a standstill. They have a desire to communicate—regardless of where they come from or where they live—in order to find strength and solace in mutual support. Throughout the film we witness them begin to build the inner equilibrium that will enable them to overcome their alienation. Alienation, communication, imposed inertia, cultural identity, and political struggle—all are themes that overlap and conflict in this story.  (Majdi El Omari)