Saturday, November 14, 2009

The one man village - سمعان بالضيعة

Making of "The one man village"

This documentary focuses on the Lebanese old way of life. The director Simon El-Haber was somewhat lucky to find a relative (his uncle) who made a choice to distance himself away from the city into an inhabited village where he will become later the only resident. The film would've been a documentary around the traditional Lebanese village, but the presence of only one man in the village, and the fact that the village was emptied during the war raises several questions in the viewers mind. Although peace is reigning nowadays, the vast majority of the residents have chosen to remain in the city, with the exception of this one man who didn't find in the city what attracted the others. He is yet to found a family, the emphasis on this issue was somewhat ridiculously funny in the movie especially when the director asked this same question (I remember one audience member who made a joke that this might be the most original way for a marriage advertisement). All in all, the viewer will be raising questions in the end about what is the city providing so people are leaning towards the crowded hard life in the city over the simplicity and the nature in the village.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Everyday is a holiday - كل يوم عيد

Trailer for "Every day is a holiday"

I didn't yet have the chance to watch the movie by Dima El-Horr, but the trailer seems pretty promessing. Among the main cast, we find Hiam Abbass a prominent Palestinian actress and Manal Khader the once journalist who starred Elia Suleiman's masterpiece "Divine Intervention". Best luck for the launch of this movie, I do not have much details about it, but will update this post whenever I get the chance to watch it and/or further details arise.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Young Talent

Demo Reel by Nareg Kalenderian

Special effects in Lebanese films require much attention, and are in most cases absent because the industry lacks generally the tools and the professionals. Academic institutes in this small country does not give the needed priority to such specialty although it has been used extensively in Advertisement making. This did not hold Nareg Kalendrian from perfecting his talent in manipulating the 3D world to make his imaginations come to reality by creating breathtaking graphics. It's worth noting that Nareg is self-taught, yet what he achieved in his 'Demo Reel 2008' used to be made exclusively by production studios and big games companies such as Blizzard. He did not only prove that Lebanese may achieve high quality effects, but also that an individual can compete alone to match outstanding Computer Generated graphics. Currently, Nareg work as a freelancer, but his talent has caught the attention of big companies. He worked with Aljazeera on animated clips, and on some advertisements. I hope he can work his talent on a completely computer generated music video since this industry doesn't lack funding and should be considered as one way to bring talents into light.
I wish Nareg is working on completing his reel into a full feature (or medium length) film, because after enjoying seeing his vision, we find ourselves in need to find the story behind. I understand the amount of resources such a project takes, but I also believe that when presenting this piece to producers they will be more than happy to collaborate with this young talent.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Beirut Diaries - يوميات بيروت

a screenshot from Beirut Diaries

Mai Masri is a remarkable talented director. Her commitment to emphasize on the civil community in the Arab world shines in the documentaries. I'll devote this post to her award winning feature that focuses on the Lebanese youth during the Independence Intifada (unlike to what Western media entitled it!). She focuses on the journey of a young Lebanese girl, Nadine, who was camping in the city center after the tragic death of PM Hariri. The young people were shown vibrant, full of hope and determinant. Despite not belonging to the same political movement, they managed to gather together, and even, with the help of Nadine, get others from opposition to visit the camps where the sit-in was taking place to discuss their different ideas. But soon the mirage fades away, and the youngs start to realize that they were betrayed by politicians who gave orders to dismantle the tents as soon as they achieved their goals, while the objectives of those who were building the true core of the intifada for weeks are far away from being achieved, hence revealing the "truth and lies" behind politics in Lebanon.
Masri's works are very educational and enjoyable. Her unique way in documenting historic events goes beyond the shell unlike TV news reports and other media which rely on lazy journalism. I hope the documentaries of Mai Masri will be broadcasted locally for Lebanese to wash away the political blindness from their eyes, and internationally to wash away the stereotypical image of the people in our region of the world portrayed by Western media.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Young Talents

Watching Lebanese shorts is always an amusing experience. The only bad thing about them, is that they are dispersed and not always easy to find: most of them are not available online, the rest might not be available in high quality or HD.
I believe the young Lebanese should not hesitate in posting their videos online, I find that vimeo provides a good place for artists to share their creations in their original quality.
Few months ago, I spotted on vimeo Chadi Younes page, and was amused by his stylish videos and the classy art. The finesse of his work uncovers this artist as one with a bright forthcoming carrier .

Haflet Taraf by Rima Kcheich - حفلة ترف لريما خشيش

The song by Rima khcheich in the above video only adds to the value of the artwork, which both emphasis on the ongoing situation in Lebanon and the Arab world.

Among the available online Lebanese artworks, I found a good short film depicting what a Lebanese director endure in order to guarantee enough financial support for a given work. Wissam Smayra was lucky to gather in that film what some calls Lebanese "artists' constellation" with major directors, with Nadine Labaki playing a major role.

Es'alni Ana by Sofia Marrikh - اسألني أنا لصوفيا مرّيخ

The above video is one video is a striking one by Smayra, the sensual images and cinematography are not matched in any other work I've seen before, I rate the surreal yet classic video as a success, and believe others agree.

The list of Lebanese artists cannot be covered in one post, but I hope in the future I'll be able to cover other works as I did in the case of Beirut After Shave before the release of the long feature by Hany Tamba. This task can get easier if the youth agree to get out of shadows and share their achievement with the rest to be able to value them. In vimeo, creating a group is among the easiest task, maybe it can be a start to have a library for artists and producers as well.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

33 Days - ٣٣ يوم

a Still from 33 days

22 days have passed and the massacres in Gaza are still being committed in ways no human can understand. A mirroring event, 2 years earlier, Lebanon was pounded continuously, brutally, and in the most cruel ways, for 33 days. Mai Masri documented this period of Lebanon history. As in any similar atrocities, war is fought in more than one front, director Masri, in her documentary, focuses her camera on different fronts on how any ordinary Lebanese was living, keeping distance from direct fire line. Without any scripted narration, the documentary reveals itself as a slideshow of events lived by the people trapped in the conflict. One camera follows the work by a TV news producer and her fight to bring to report the war to citizens and being forced away from her home during all the 33 days period. Another persepective direct our attention to a theater director who had done a marvelous job in entertaining displaced kids. A third front emphasize the efforts done by the civilian community in Lebanon to bring relief aids to refugees. Noting that all those storylines are being shown in parallel, we end up concluding that the efforts described in the documentary are ingredients to a successful resistance movement which led to a merited victory.
For Lebanese, this award winning masterpiece will surely unveil some emotions, maybe make a tear or two drop, but will get us firmly attached to our dignity, our pride, our land, and unity. It should be aired as well on most TV stations, western or local to give the side of wars aside what the news reports bring.
Mai Masri is a Palestinian director, I am not sure whether she can produce a similar documentary about the ongoing war in Gaza without being present there. But the tragic events should be documented in the same way it have been done during the war in Lebanon, even if conditions are much more difficult.

Related posts: Under the bombs, Slingshot Hip hop, Salt of this sea

Saturday, January 3, 2009

SlingShot Hip Hop - هيب هوب المقلاع

In the light of the tragic events that are shredding Gaza (which remind me to the latest infamous war against Lebanon in 2006 with ironically very similar circumstances), this post will be dedicated to the new award-winning documentary by Jackie Salloum: Slingshot Hip Hop.

Slingshot Hip Hop Trailer

Despite all the borders, walls, checkpoints, and the apartheid regime, this feature reveals the unity of the Palestinian population wherever they are. The movie is surprisingly amusing for a documentary, it reveals youth life and the continuing will to overturn the outcomes of the oppression imposed on occupied people. It highlights suavely different talents mainly in Hip Hop, that are blooming against the occupation and the indignity. The music they compose is enjoyable by youth, but also by elder people as some scenes indicates. That kind of culture is one way towards breaking the chain that imprisons bodies, but not minds of occupied people.
To resume, director Jackie Salloum redefines, and successfully corrects the image of the Arabs with respect to the vilification that floods screens of every westerner.
No one can ignore the big talent of Salloum, you can easily enjoy her studies about the western media vs. Arabian media by playing the videos below side by side; the first one emphasize the dehumanization of Arabs in the West medias, the other shows Arabs from their own eyes (mainly a successful montage from different Lebanese and Egyptian films).

Planet of the Arabs (up left), and Arabs a Go-go (lower right) by Jackie Salloum

I can only hope such movie reach a wide audience not only in the middle-east, but especially in Europe and USA.
Note that this is not the first post on a Palestinian movie, I would remind of another one discussing the great feature Salt of This Sea.