L E   F I F A
L E   F I F A
Sandlines, the Story of History

Canadian Premiere

Sandlines, the Story of History

Francis Alÿs

Iraq | 2020 | 1 h 1 min
English, Arabic |
Subtitles: French
The International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA) and MOMENTA Biennale de l’image partner up to present Sandlines, the Story of History by Francis Alÿs at the Festival’s 39th edition.

Feature film Sandlines, the Story of History, filmed between 2018 and 2020 near a Yezidi refugee camp in Iraq, is part of a series of projects that has seen Belgian artist Francis Alÿs work with children all over the world. Since 2016, he has completed seven projects in Iraq, including this latest work of historical fiction. The artist asked children from a mountain village 20 km from Mosul to revisit a century of their country’s history: from the Sykes-Picot agreement in May 1916, right up to the influence of the Daesh terrorist group in 2016. This collaboration between the artist and the children — who have a knack for interpreting a series of events in their own way — results in works that raise issues of borders and territories.
Overview of some festivals: 

Sundance Film Festival, United States (2020).
IFFR, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Netherlands (2020).
Punto de Vista International Documentary Film Festival, Spain (2020).
FICUNAM, International Cinema Festival, Mexico (2020).
FID, Marseille International Film Festival, France (2020).
Aryan International Children’s Film Festival of Jaipur, India (2020).
Director Francis Alÿs
Script Francis Alÿs
Editing Julien Devaux
Cast Ali (The Frenchman), Barzan (The Soldier), Hanane (The Runaway Girl), Bachar (The Ottoman), Fatma (The Narrator), Demoa (The Narrator's Companion), Gibran (The Lawyer), Sa'ef (The Kurd), Yousef & Yasin (The Jihadists), Mohamed (The Englishman), Younis (The Banker), Younis (The Arab), Amudi (Saddam Hussein), Amudi (King Faisal), Gufran (Gertrude Bell), Yasin, Barzan & Alaoui (Captain America)
Sound Felix Blume
Cinematography Julien Devaux, Ivan Boccara, Francis Alÿs
Costumes Francis Alÿs
Other Co-production Ruya Foundation

In Partnership with



Francis Alÿs

Francis Alÿs

Trained as an architect and urbanist, Francis Alÿs moved to Mexico in 1986 to work with local NGO’s. In 1990 he entered the field of visual arts. His practice embraces multiple media, from painting and drawing to video and photography.

Although his studio is based in Mexico City, he has done over the last 20 years numerous projects in collaboration with local communities around the world, from South America to North Africa and Middle East. For example, in Peru he produced an event where 500 volunteers moved a sand dune just a few centimeters (When Faith Moves Mountains, Lima, 2002).

Since 2016 he has been engaged in a series of new projects in Iraq, such as Hopscotch (2016), produced in collaboration with the Yazidi Refugee Camp of Sharya, Duhok, Iraq, or Color Matching (2016), filmed while being embedded with Kurdish forces during the siege of Mosul. In 2020 he premiered the feature film Sandlines produced in collaboration with Julien Devaux and the children of a small mountain village of the Nineveh province in festivals such as Sundance, the International Film Festival Rotterdam, and Mexico City’s Ficunam.

Francis Alÿs has had solo exhibitions in museums worldwide, such as the Rockbund Art Museum (RAM), Shanghai, 2018; Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, 2018; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, 2017; Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de la Habana, Havana, 2016; Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City, 2015; dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany, and Kabul, Afghanistan; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, 2013; Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, 2011; Tate Modern, London, 2010; Bass Museum of Art, Miami, 2009; Dia Art Foundation, New York, 2007; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, 2007; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 2005; Museu d’Art Contemporani, Barcelona, 2005; Museo Nacional de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, 2003; Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City, 1997, among others. He was awarded the Blue Orange prize in 2004, the Vincent Award in 2008, the BACA-laureate prize in 2010, the EYE Art & Film Prize from EYE Filmmuseum in 2018. In 2020, he received the Whitechapel Gallery Art Icon Award and the Rolf Schock Prize in Visual Arts. Francis Alÿs will represent Belgium at the 2022 Venice Biennale.

Biographical notes provided by the film production team
Selected films:
Color Matching (2016)
The silence of Ani (2015)
Lada Kopeika Project (2014)
Paradox of Praxis 5 (2013)
D.O./U.N.D.O. (2008)

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