Award-winning filmmaker and installation artist Nida Sinnokrot's unique style is very much informed by his past. In Algeria, where Sinnokrot was raised, he explains, "Not only did my mother speak a combination of Arabic and broken English, but the community's Algerian dialect and French complicated my linguistic landscape. I never felt compelled to settle for one tongue. I spoke a hybrid, personal language."
Sinnokrot and his family moved to the US when he was a teenager. "That move was very difficult" he says. "My world was turned upside-down. When I would turn on the TV, the bad guys looked like me. Years later, I began to understand the connections between my parents' loss of their homeland, my circumstance and mass media."
Born in 1971, Sinnokrot earned a BS from the University of Texas - Austin in Film and an MFA from Bard College. Ironically, he says he never set out to make art. "I was studying filmmaking, but the three-act narrative structure didn't suit me at all. Because I carried the past with me, time wasn't linear." At Bard, Sinnokrot found a solution to this problem, which he calls Horizontal Loops. He took apart his filmmaking equipment and turned the cinema into an interactive installation space. "A cinematic Theramin of sorts," he describes, "where viewers are given agency over what they see, effectively re-socializing the traditional cinematic experience and foregrounding the question of who is in control of the media. Art allowed me to take control of the mechanisms with which my story was told."
Sinnokrot was part of the Whitney Independent Studio Program, the Made in Palestine exhibit and a number of group shows in the US and abroad. In 2002, he was awarded a Rockefeller Media Fellowship with which he went to Palestine to make a Horizontal Loop installation. "However, when I got there, I discovered that the Wall was being built," he says. "Despite myself, I felt like I had to make a story that could be broadcast. And so I made Palestine Blues, a film with a beginning, middle and end but I did my best to subvert that grammar whenever possible."
Palestine Blues, his first film, has gone on to win numerous awards in international film festivals.