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

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“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

Ziad Doueiri – The Attack (2012)

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Quote:
Dr. Amin Jaafari is an Israeli Palestinian surgeon, fully assimilated into Tel Aviv society. He has a loving wife, an exemplary career, and many Jewish friends. But his picture-perfect life is turned upside down when a suicide bombing in a restaurant leaves nineteen dead, and the Israeli police inform him that his wife Sihem, who also died in the explosion, was responsible. Convinced of her innocence, Amin abandons the relative security of his adopted homeland and enters the Palestinian territories in pursuit of the truth. Once there, he finds himself in ever more dangerous places and situations. Determined, he presses on seeking answers to questions he never thought he would be asking.
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Ziad Doueiri – West Beyrouth aka West Beirut (1998)

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Review By Andrew O’Hehir :

Movies in which a boy comes of age in a landscape shadowed by violence have almost become their own genre, and it seems unlikely that one of them could show us anything new. But even by the standards of such classic examples as Louis Malle’s “Au Revoir les Enfants” and Agnieszka Holland’s “Europa Europa,” “West Beirut” is a noteworthy accomplishment. The debut feature from Ziad Doueiri, a 36-year-old Lebanese immigrant who was a cameraman on all three of Quentin Tarantino’s films, “West Beirut” is engaging and highly accomplished cinema shot on a shoestring budget. Even more strikingly, it carries us to a time and place most Americans know only through the stereotypical horrors of evening-news photography, offering a compelling insider’s vision of Arab family life in the semi-Westernized context of the mid-1970s Middle East.
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Akram Zaatari – Fi haza al-bayt aka In This House (2004)

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Synopsis

His film In This House, 2005 records the search in the garden of a house in southern Lebanon for a letter encased and buried there by a former National Front resistance fighter who had occupied the house in the early 1980s. The split-screen format presents, on one side, the resistance member—now a respected photo-journalist—telling the story of his experience in the house and on the other side, the digging up of the garden and the eventual discovery of the canister containing the letter. The running table of text that accompanies the unfolding narrative identifies the owners of the house and a host of security agents who oversee the operation and whose faces, we are told, are not to be filmed. The anxiety about who or what is allowed to be caught on film together with their growing excitement as the letter is unearthed connotes the poignant tension of a country in a constant state of deferral; the dilemma of whether it is better to unpack the still unresolved consequences of events from the past or to simply carry on, and leave them buried. Continue reading

Maroun Bagdadi – Hors la Vie AKA Out of Life (1991)

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Quote:
Patrick Perrault, a free-lance photographer, is in Beirut to cover the never-ending war. He’s taken hostage and his life becomes one long, ruthless night. The film is the story of his captivity, along with that of a city and its people held captive by a fifteen-year war. Winner of Jury Prize at 1991 Cannes Film Festival. Continue reading