Jocelyn Saab – Kanya Ya Ma Kan, Beyrouth AKA Once Upon a Time in Beirut (1995)


“This reflexive voyage into a celluloid Beirut becomes the key to finding out to which Beirut one is returning, and to point to the new Beirut one wishes for the future.” – Ella Shohat and Robert Stam, Cineaste

Distraught over Beirut’s destruction, Yasmine and Leila embark on a journey in search of its past. Their possession of two rare, unreleased film reels lands them an encounter with Monsieur Farouk, a reclusive film connoisseur.

Through the magic of cinema, the three of them go back in time on a mythical and history-laden tour of the city. Here the movie shines with images of Beirut from the large-scale American studio efforts of the 1970’s to the Beirut of the 1960’s as seen through the lenses of Arab filmmakers, to the French-directed films of the 1930s. Once Upon a Time: Beirut offers an enchanting look at one of the Middle East’s most complex and beautiful cities. Continue reading