In this room, there is an elephant. It is majestic. It is admired. It is exactly where it needs to be.
The Elephant in the Room was made to depict the experience through which we witness the magic of unleashing what we’ve always been taught to cage in. This is the story behind all I do, but it especially manifests in this collection. Although Chapter 7 is rooted in a personal experience, I knew it could resonate with countless others. I trusted Elie’s ability to bring this resonance into the film and he did just that. The product was a combination of elements from vocals, to cast, to visuals – all coming together to make this project exactly what I envisioned it to be.
What mattered most to me was that everything in the film stood for something, and this came down to the simplest details like assigning looks to our models that complement their character. This is why I wanted Houda to open the film with a birthday cake in hand – she is just one of the many iconic women who have helped bring our work to such lengths with every passing year.
Collaborating with Lynn Adib tied everything together as she vocalized the feminine, soft, yet powerful presence we see throughout the film. Her singing سنة حلوة (Happy Birthday) as Nizar blows the candles introduces a celebratory notion to the film, which is essential to making this chapter a celebration of oddness and its infinite potential.
The Elephant in the Room is a metaphorical walk-through of how far I’ve come since that photo of me as a boy wearing my Dumbo shirt. Where the elephant once caused discomfort, it now graces the room with its presence. The weight of this metaphor becomes especially concentrated when I step in to face the women featured in this film.
There were so many emotions of joy and community in that moment. It all came together at this point, when Elie placed his hands on my shoulders and a shared sense of fulfillment filled the room, just like the elephant.
Written by Serene Sbaity
Photographed by Mohamad Al-Rifai