Bidayyat: Smugglers Between Generations

When and Where

Friday, November 24, 2023 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Innis Town Hall
Innis College
2 Sussex Avenue, Toronto, ON M5S 1J5


Mohammad Ali Atassi
Rania Stephan
Stefan Tarnowski


The Arab Spring was linked to an explosion of creativity from a young generation that didn’t see themselves reflected in the art and politics of the past. Responding to this rupture, Bidayyat assembled emerging filmmakers, mentors, and media activists, young and old, to produce films that described, imagined, and responded to an unprecedented historical moment. The panelists will reflect on their films, the role of art and aesthetics in contemporary Arab liberation movements, and how they played out in the day to day editing processes of films in production at Bidayyat, particularly regarding the link between Syrian's right to a dignified image and the role of images and video in helping to overthrow Assad's brutal regimes.

Supported by the Jackman Humanities Institute’s Program for the Arts and the Cinema Studies Institute at the University of Toronto.

Panelist Bios

Mohammad Ali Atassi is a journalist and documentary filmmaker. In 2013, he founded Bidayyat for Audiovisual Arts. He has directed four documentary films: Our Terrible Country (2014), Ibn al-am Online (The Cousin Online, 2012), Waiting for Abu Zaid (2010), and Ibn al-am (The Cousin, 2001). Among his film awards are Best Audience and Best Youth Jury Awards, Punto de Vista Festival, Pamplona, Spain (2015); Grand Prize, International Competition, FIDMarseille (2014); Best Film, International Competition, Forumdoc, Belo Horizonte, Brazil (2014).

Rania Stephan is an artist and filmmaker. For a decade she served as a board member and mentor for Bidayyat, as well as for Women Now. Her documentary and installation The Three Memories of Soad Hosni has won numerous prizes and is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art (NYC), Fondation Louis Vuitton (Paris), and Sharjah Art Foundation (UAE). Her documentary, In Fields of Words: Conversations with Samar Yazbek won the 2022 Villa Medicis Prize. As an artist, Rania Stephan is represented by Marfa’ Gallery, Beirut.

Stefan Tarnowski is an anthropologist whose research brings together political and media anthropology, with a particular focus on Lebanon and Syria and the aftermaths of their recent uprisings. He is currently an early-career research fellow at Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge, and a postdoctoral researcher on the “Views of Violence” project at the University of Copenhagen. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in World Records, Visual Anthropology, Film Quarterly, Review of Middle East Studies, and the London Review of Books.

Contact Information


Jackman Humanities Institute's Program for the Arts, Cinema Studies Institute