Scrapbook: A Month of Lebanese Cinema has kicked off in Beirut. The event, to screen eight independent Lebanese films over six weeks from May 3, is presented by Metropolis Empire Sofil and MC Distribution.
It’s a crucial step in supporting local filmmakers, whose films often remain unseen due to a lack of interest in local distribution.
With the programme including films ranging from Yamo by Rami Nihawi, a film about the transience of memory, to Ok, Enough, Goodbye by Rania Attieh and Daniel Garcia, a fiction about a tight-knit family from Tripoli, there will certainly be a thought-provoking film for everyone at the festival.
Among other films, Scrapbook will screen The Three Disappearances of Soad Hosni by award-winning director Rania Stephan. Expertly edited from archive footage, the documentary is not only a representation of Arabic screen legend Soad Hosni and of a certain time in history, but also a comment on the film industry itself.
“My film is a homage to [Egyptian actress] Soad Hosni’s work and what she contributed to Arabic cinema,” says Stephan, who used an avant-garde approach in making the documentary. “The principle guiding my film is that one can tell a story exclusively using [other images]. My film deconstructed all the previous images of Soad Hosni to reconstruct a new representation of her.”
And then there are films exploring Lebanon’s own history.
Nadim Mishlawi’s documentary Sector Zero looks at Lebanese collective memory in the low-income Beirut neighbourhood or “urban wasteland” of Quarantina. Hady Zaccak’s Marcedes portrays 60 years of the country’s history through the life of a German-Lebanese family’s car. Ahmed Ghossein uses love letters and tapes from the civil war to explore his childhood ideas about his father in My Father is Still A Communist, while in It’s All in Lebanon, Wissam Charaf focuses on efforts to rebuild the country after the war. As for Simon El Habre’s Gate #5, it tells the story of rural exodus during the 1960s and 1970s.
For a month, independent Lebanese films are on Beirut’s doorstep.
Below is the film schedule as announced by Metropolis. Each film will be screened every day for two weeks from its starting date.
May 3: Sector Zero
Dir. Nadim Mishlawi. 70mins. Lebanon and U.A.E. Arabic with English subtitles. A documentary and investigation into the derelict area of Quarantina and how it reflects Lebanese collective memory. 3.00pm, 5.00p, 7.30pm, 10.00pm.
May 10: Gate #5
Dir. Simon El Habre. 84mins. Lebanon and U.A.E. Arabic with English subtitles. Ambitious and young Lebanese leave their villages and head to the exciting big cities during the 1960s and 1970s. 2.30pm, 5.30pm, 8.00pm, 10.30pm.
May 17: The Three Disappearances of Soad Hosni
Dir. Rania Stephan. 70mins. Lebanon. Arabic with English subtitles. In tribute to the famed Egyptian actress, this film documents Hosni’s life using archival footage from her films. 3.00pm, 5.00pm, 7.30pm.
May 24: My Father Is Still A Communist
Dir. Ahmad Ghosein. 32mins. Lebanon and U.A.E. Arabic with English subtitles. A son invents stories about his ‘war hero’ father, with the help of old cassette tapes and love letters written during the civil war. 4.15pm, 7.15pm, 9.45pm.
May 31: It’s All in Lebanon
Dir. Wissam Charaf. 62mins. Lebanon and U.A.E. Arabic with English subtitles. Lebanon’s struggle to rebuild the country and its survivors both physically and mentally after countless years of war and occupation. 2.30pm, 5.30pm, 8.00pm, 10.30pm.
May 31: Marcades
Dir Hady Zaccak. 68mins. Lebanon. Arabic with English subtitles. 60 years of Lebanese history are entwined with that of a German-Lebanese family’s Mercedes Ponton. 3.00pm, 5.00pm, 7.30pm, 10.00pm.
June 14: Yamo
Dir. Rami Nihawi. 70mins. Lebanon. Arabic with English subtitles. A surreal dreamscape dealing with the problematic transience of memory and imagination. 3.00pm, 5.00pm, 7.30pm, 10.00pm.
June 14: Ok, Enough, Goodbye
Dir. Rania Attieh and Daniel Garcia. 93mins. Lebanon. Arabic with English subtitles. A Tripoli man is left with nothing but the comfort of the city when his elderly mother abruptly leaves him.