DOCUMENTARY | 2022 | 62 MN | COLOR | 16:9 | o.v ARABIC | st ENGLISH
Directed by SABRINA MERVIN
The Sky Wept For Forty days is an immersion into the pilgrimage of Shiite Islam that brings together millions of faithful in Karbala, Iraq. Their walk to the shrine of Imam Hossein, who was martyred there in 680, lasts more than three days. They commemorate the return of his head to his body. The camera delves into the crowd among the processions and performances, as the pilgrims sing and beat their chests to the height of religious fervour.
"Shiite mourning rites for the Prophet's grandson, Husayn, are among the world's great religious observances and are central to the faith of some 180 million Shiite Muslims. Sabrina Mervin's wonderful film is a vivid window into the passion and devotion of these spiritual practices, which allows pilgrims and those who serve them to speak for themselves."
Juan Cole, Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History, University of Michigan
"Mervin’s capture of arba‘in, Shi‘i commemorative rituals observed forty days after the martyrdom of the grandson of the Prophet, Imam Husayn in 680 C.E., is the ultimate example of an ethnographic documentary of pilgrimage: a chronicle of lived experiences of religious devotion as ingrained as the dirt on the road the pilgrims walk on. The Sky Wept for Forty Days is an essential viewing of Shi‘i mourning rituals, one of those documentaries that leave you rivetingly moved and yet educationally informed about a mourning tradition that continues to shape Shi‘i identity."
Babak Rahimi, Associate Professor of Communication, Culture and Religion, UC San Diego
THE SKY WEPT FOR FORTY DAYS by Sabrina Mervin
Historian and anthropologist, Sabrina Mervin is a senior researcher at the CNRS. Her work focuses on Islam, particularly Shiism, in Lebanon and Iraq, but also in Iran and India. After having lived for a dozen years in the Middle East and the Maghreb, she continues to travel there regularly. She has published or edited a dozen books, including Histoire de l'islam (Flammarion, 2016), Najaf, the Gate of Wisdom (Unesco Publishing, 2014), Un réformisme chiite (Karthala, 2000, France-Lebanon Prize 2002).
For a long time, Sabrina has been documenting and enriching her work through photography, with a more artistic approach. She made a first documentary film in 2006, The procession of the captives (A Shiite Tragedy), 54 mn (Momento-CNRS Images Production) which won the Mario Ruspoli prize at the Jean Rouch Festival in 2007. It has been screened nearly thirty times in film festivals and scientific events.