Desert Dreaming

Desert Dreaming began with inquiring into all that is missing, yet forms one’s consciousness in the family portrait and transforming spaces of a familial home. This film is part of an ongoing project that traces labour migration to the Middle East and the micro impacts of large shifts such as the neoliberalisation of the economy in the 1970s, the civil war that began in the 1980s, and subsequent post-war transformations in Sri Lanka. It challenges monolithic narratives of personal history and middle-class Muslim upbringing through anecdotal and intimate recollections. By means of collage techniques and pixelation, images blur and mutate in the ways that remembrance is equally the space of invention, repression, and reformulation. The process is made apparent through a video superimposed with intergenerational conversations, using an aural landscape drawn from the soundtrack to a famous Tamil film, Ulagam Sutrum Valiban (World Roaming Bachelor, 1973). MGR, the star of the film, was born in the artist’s hometown in Sri Lanka in the same year as his grandfather. MGR’s onscreen swashbuckling characters were the fodder of dreams for a generation of young people including the artist’s aunts and uncles, even as they had to evade the strict supervision of their father to watch them.
by Abdul Halik Azeez
with Feroze Azeez
Sri Lanka 2022 English, Tamil 12’ Colour European premiere


  • Feroze Azeez


Director Abdul Halik Azeez
Editing Abdul Halik Azeez
Sound Design Abdul Halik Azeez
Producer Abdul Halik Azeez

Abdul Halik Azeez

Abdul Halik Azeez’s work examines technologies of power as mediated through contemporary culture, narratives of progress, lived experiences, and media. His multidisciplinary practice predominantly draws from post-war transformations that have impacted Sri Lanka, such as the effects of gentrification, tourism, and renewed ultranationalist politics. Azeez also works collaboratively with The Packet and other artists from Sri Lanka and elsewhere.


2016 Pics or it Didn’t Happen / Memory; 10 min. 2020 World Class City; 1 min. · Circumambulation; 29 min. 2022 you are enough for someone to love its true; 4 min. · Desert Dreaming

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2023