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Darina Al Joundi’s “The Day Nina Simone Stopped Singing” Triumphs in France !!


Darina Al Joundi beyond the shadow of a doubt, is one of the most powerful, and explosive figure of contemporary theatre and performing arts. She wrote numerous screenplays, short films, documentaries, and developed new concepts for television. She worked on all the technical aspects of the business; assistant director, production, camera, sound, light, make-up, decor, art director, you name it. Two of her most significant accomplishments “Osti Ossa” (This is my story), a most captivating TV concept based on true events, and her personal experiences, and “Le jour où Nina Simone a cessé de chanter” cemented her status as a world-class artist, performer and writer.

We had a brief chat with Darina Al Joundi, here it is, unedited and un-retouched.

-What is your most significant accomplishment?

- Darina: My work, my life

-What is the very first thing you would do, if you were elected president of your country?

-Darina: I’ll make civil laws, a secular country

-Why did you write “Osti Ossa” (This is my story)

- Darina: To try and change unjust laws

-Why did you dedicate your first work “Le jour où Nina Simone a cessé de chanter” to your father, Assem Al Joundi

-Darina: The play is homage to my father for all what he taught me and gave me in all the aspects of my life, and especially for teaching me how to be free

-Why Nina Simone?

-Darina: Because she was very special for both my father and me. In the play, her music is there practically all the time, and in the last scene, the brutality I portrayed is made with her song “Sinner Man”. Check out the site of the play:

www.lejourouninasimoneacessedechanter.com

-July 2012 in Avignon, France, saw the creation of your new show “Ma Marseillaise” directed by Alain Timar. You wrote the pay and starred in it. Why “Ma Marseillaise”? Is it the projection or presentation of personal experiences?

-Darina: The play talks about the experience of getting the French nationality, and the Marseillaise is the national anthem that the character has to learn by heart; she has a fixation on it, because she’s panicking about forgetting the words and loosing the chance of having the French nationality, practically all my work is based and inspired by my personal experiences.

- Why did you become a feminist?

-Darina: I didn’t plan to become one. I found myself defending women’s right by defending mine, that’s all, naturally I became one.

-In September 2012, you were invited by Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem to inaugurate “la série de conférences unique en son genre” pertaining to women’s rights, and to testify about your personal experience…


DARINA: “EVERYTHING I KNEW AND LIVED FOR…I LEFT BEHIND.”


-Darina: The conferences are a series of Rencontres with the public organized by the ministry, to shed bright light on women who found out that they had an interesting life and work experience to talk about; women who fight for what they believe in; a different line of work.

-It was said that you were “Raised on Baudelaire, A Clockwork Orange, and fine Bordeaux in 1970s Lebanon. Why Baudelaire, A Clockwork Orange, and Bordeaux?

-Darina: Baudelaire is one of the greatest poets of all times. Clockwork Orange means the movie of Kubrik; a film I saw when I was very young, during the civil war in Beirut. My father took me to see it. Fine Bordeaux is great wine. All of these things I saw, read or drank with my father; these are some of the things that we used to hear, see and drink…all of them made the bits of our life long time ago.

-You lived in Beirut under the shadows of a brutal civil war and dark clouds of threat of death on a daily basis. On this, one reporter wrote, “As the bombs fell, she lived an adolescence of excess and transgression, defying death in nightclubs.”

-Darina: When you live and face war and death every day, you learn to fight back by staying alive, and keep on living, going out, falling in love, laughing, dancing, drinking…they become a way to fight back, and to say to yourself and to the world, I am still alive.

-I read something very emotional and deeply touching about your father’s last wish; here is an excerpt, “On his deathbed, her father’s last wish is for his favorite song, “Sinner man,” by Nina Simone, to be played at his funeral instead of the traditional suras of the Koran. When she does just that, the results are catastrophic.

-Darina: Yes, this is what happens in the beginning, in the first scene of my play “Le jour où Nina Simone a cessé de chanter.”

-About your book “Osti Ossa”, one critic wrote, “In this dramatic true story, Darina Al-Joundi is defiantly passionate about living her life as a liberated woman, even if it means leaving everyone and everything behind.” Meaning what?

-Darina: It means being free is the most important thing, even if it means leaving every thing behind; everything I knew and lived for…I left behind, and starting a new life in a new country, which by the way I did…and I did it to be able to live free.

-Your cinema work encompasses directing and starring in various films such as Un homme perdu, by Daniel Arbid, presented at the Director’s Fortnight of the 2007 Cannes Festival. La porte du soleil “The Door to the Sun”, 2004, by Yousry Nasrallah. Beyrouth Fantôme, 1998, by Ghassan Salhab. Time Has Come, 1994, by Jean-Claude Codsi, and the last one don’t forget the Cumin by Hala Abdalla, as well as some documentaries…

-Darina: Well I tried , after working for a long time in the technical aspects of the business, thinking that one day I’d want to direct , I tried with a short film “ Superman” I wrote, and I discovered that I don’t want to be a director.

I found more pleasure and satisfaction in writing and acting, maybe one day I’ll try again. I was going to direct a documentary in Egypt but the revolution started and the project stopped, visit my site www.darina-al-joundi.com to check out the list of all my films and TV series and plays. I have hundreds of hours of TV series in the Arab world. :

-Do you still live in Paris?

-Darina: I live and work in Paris.

-Are you currently working on any new project?

-Darina: Am finishing my new novel; it’s a romance-biography about May Ziadé, a great woman, a writer, a journalist and a feminist, to be published by Grasset, in France.