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Grandma, A Thousand Times (Teta, Alf Marra) is a poetic documentary that puts a feisty Beiruti grandmother at the center of brave film exercises concocted by her grandson to capture and commemorate her many worlds before they are erased by the passage of time and her eventual death.
Teta Kaabour is an 83-year old family matriarch and sharp-witted queen bee of an old Beiruti quarter. She's been gripped as of late by the silence of her once-buzzing household where she raised children and grandchildren. Resigned to Argileh smoking and coffee drinking on a now-empty balcony, Teta now invokes the deepest memories of her violinist husband who died twenty years ago. She claims a preparedness to reunite with him.
Filmmaker Mahmoud Kaabour, Teta's favorite grandson and the bearer of his grandfather's full name, has also been preoccupied for years with the memory of his grandfather. Prior to his death, the late violinist had audio taped heart-wrenching violin improvisations in the privacy of his room in that same flat. That music, along with the details of his long career playing with the Arab world's most famous divas, remains unpublished. The filmmaker's anguish is compounded at the thought that this personal and cultural heritage, as well as grandma's own stories, rare recipes, and naughty humor, will go with her when she parts this life.
Grandma, a Thousand Times brings together grandfather, grandmother, and grandson in a playful, imaginative documentary that aims to defy a past death and a future one. It documents with great intimacy the larger-than-life character of Teta Kaabour, her telling of the trials of her violinist husband, as well as her imaginings of what awaits her beyond death -- all while the filmmaker constantly switches roles between the film's silent creator, Teta's grandson in front of the camera, and a reenactor of his late grandfather. Meanwhile, the deceased violinist circles them with his seven violin improvisations that serve as the impetus of the film and its soundtrack.
This film originally aired as part of Doc-Debut, a series on Link TV highlighting unique and groundbreaking international documentary films. Each week features the US television premiere of a new foreign doc, offering American audiences unprecedented perspectives on world events and culture, as seen through the eyes of individuals across the globe. The series also provides a unique outlet for films by independent directors and producers to reach a much wider international audience.