Prior to meeting Wadad in 2006, I had been doing research on Arab music for a few years. I was searching in particular female voices, looking for the briny air of the sea, the power of the mountain climate, the crystallized aridness of the desert, or the sophistication of a city-dweller like Wadad. It took Wadad some time to open up and about two years for me to find the archives. She sang for and about “women,” as a Bergman, a Fellini, or a Fassbinder have filmed them. « When I sing, I imagine a character, I am this character” she says. This film is a tribute to the actress whose career was interrupted. It borrows key elements from the ‘cinéma d’époque’, Wadad’s songs and life. It juggles with historical periods, using an array of visual documents, temporalities, all regulated by Wadad’s songs.
She was nine when she started singing live on the radio. Since then, her voice has been heard almost every day on Arab radio stations. Her recipe was simple, and yet no one else has managed it. But because of her Jewish origins, her conversion to Islam, her tumultuous love stories and marriages, her stormy character, her stage rivals and the political situation, she was steadily pushed towards anonymity. This film is more of a poetic essay than a documentary. It is a journey through mind-blowing music that attempts, using events in Wadad’s life, to portray women in general, a diva and her decline. The film is a mosaic of real and imaginary sequences. Wadad passed away on the 20th of February 2009.
With The Support of
Fuad Kurani & Shirin ‘Abali