Beirut Hanan Beirut: self-produced documentary to screen at BIFF

Lebanese cinematographer Patrick Issa's first documentary to screen at Beirut International Film Festival

Events and Festivals, Lebanon

Beirut Hanan Beirut: self-produced documentary to screen at BIFF

Two young Lebanese girls live just 50 kilometres apart, but in totally different worlds. Mireille is a city-dweller and Hanan is a nomad who lives in a camp in the mountains. One has just discovered the social networking site Facebook, while the other is learning that nomads in her own country are no longer circumcised.

Patrick Issa's first documentary film, Beirut Hanan Beirut, records the powerful encounter between these two women and their cultures. "From the start, I was interested in the temporal gap between these two cultures," he explains.

In his first documentary film, Issa drew on his 14 years' experience working as a cinematographer: "I studied on a fast-track course in Lebanon for two years, and took part in directors' workshops. Above all, this taught me how to use emotions, to crystallise them and to share them through film."

The result is an emotional, visual film that is high in contrasts, whose carefully composed frames evoke the director's sensitivity. Issa knows how to subtly remove his director’s fingerprints, so as not to spoil the spontaneity of the discussion between the two women. Beyond documenting the unexpected encounter, the film is above all a portrait of Mireille, the Beiruti woman in the film.

Due to his experience in the film industry, the young director wanted to avoid any outside influence during production.

"I wanted to do everything myself, I wanted to be free to express my emotions and not to have to depend on a production company. Friends and family supported me, but I didn't have enough money and the project took over a year to finish. There’s a lot of talent in Lebanon and people who could make films, but don’t because they don't have the money. I want them to know that it's possible to make experimental films and documentaries without a budget."

The project took 15 months to finish, with breaks of a few months due to lack of funding.

Beirut Hanan Beirut's selection for the Beirut International Film Festival is a major step of recognition for Issa, and he hopes that it will lead to other opportunities. After this cinematic journey in his own country, he wants to travel around the world. This self-proclaimed "travelling nomad" will be in Nepal and Kashmir in November, camera in hand.

Beirut Hanan Beirut will be screened on October 6 at 5 pm and October 8 at 8pm.

Anaïs Renevier

Translation: Hayley Wood


Beirut Hanan Beirut - trailer:  

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