Zeina Durra Explores the Post-9/11 Cultural Divide In Her Witty Debut Film

by Nowness SOURCE Nowness

The Imperialists Are Still Alive! is a wry meditation on New York's East-West melting pot in the years immediately following 9/11.

In a clip from her Sundance-selected feature, Zeina Durra sends up the city's East Village enclave of cool, trailing lead character Asya (Élodie Bouchez), a conceptual artist of French-Middle Eastern descent, and her entourage to a downtown bar so exclusive it’s nearly empty. The amusing vignette lies in stark contrast to the film's underlying angst: Asya's childhood friend Faisal has been detained by US officials on charges of suspected terrorism. "After 9/11 it was hard for everyone to sift between the reality of one's paranoia, and the theatrics of one's paranoia,” says Durra. “I wanted to show that Asya had genuine cause for concern, due to her Arab roots and connections and what was happening with Faisal—but also how crazy it was in the context of her hipster downtown existence." Nodding to Godard's communist satire La Chinoise, the movie was shot on 16mm film, filtering through a grainy lens Asya’s journey from gilded Park Avenue apartments to uptown art openings to the Harlem apartment where she conducts her love affair with PhD student Javier (rising Mexican star José María de Tavira). The Imperialists Are Still Alive! will open in the US on April 15.