In April, 1975, civil war breaks out; Beirut is partitioned along a Moslem-Christian line. Tarek is in high school, making Super 8 movies with his friend, Omar. At first the war is a lark: ...
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In the wake of Israel's 2006 bombardment of Lebanon, a determined woman finds her way into the country convincing a taxi cab driver to take a risky journey around the scarred region in search of her sister and her son.
Nada Abou Farhat,
In today's Beirut, an insult blown out of proportions finds Toni, a Lebanese Christian, and Yasser, a Palestinian refugee, in court. From secret wounds to traumatic revelations, the media ... See full summary »
Kamel El Basha,
Fifteen years after a traumatic explosion in his native Beirut, Kamal Maf'ouss returns from France, where he was nationalized and become a composer-choreographer. He reassembles youth ... See full summary »
Rodney El Haddad,
Nada Abou Farhat
Noha is about to get married. Her family is relieved to see her take advantage of this last chance before officially becoming a spinster just like her sister. Everything seems to be going ... See full summary »
In April, 1975, civil war breaks out; Beirut is partitioned along a Moslem-Christian line. Tarek is in high school, making Super 8 movies with his friend, Omar. At first the war is a lark: school has closed, the violence is fascinating, getting from West to East is a game. His mother wants to leave; his father refuses. Tarek spends time with May, a Christian, orphaned and living in his building. By accident, Tarek goes to an infamous brothel in the war-torn Olive Quarter, meeting its legendary madam, Oum Walid. He then takes Omar and May there using her underwear as a white flag for safe passage. Family tensions rise. As he comes of age, the war moves inexorably from adventure to tragedy. Written by
'Mohammad Chamas' who played Omar in the movie was discovered by accident. At one time while the crew was preparing the set and not having found an actor to play Omar, Mohammed was passing by and he had a fight with one of the crew members. The director noticed him and immediately asked him to play the character. After having lived in an orphanage most of his life, becoming a lead in a motion picture was an important change of pace. See more »
In one scene when Tarek and Omar can't find May and sit down to talk, a Peugeot 505 appears in the background. Peugeot hadn't released their 505 model in 1975-76, the year at which the scene is supposed to happen. See more »
I have seen this movie several times, the first time at a private screening in Los Angeles. It was a powerful experience shared by the many attendees that connected and understood this movie in a very special way. The roller coaster of emotions (sadness, laughter, anger, hope, despair, etc.) left me so exhausted I literally needed an energy bar afterwards.
There are a few things I MUST say about this movie. First, it is an excellent work overall, light with its humor, touching with its sincerity, striking with its honesty, and plain good looking and sounding (hats off to the awesome tracks by Stewart Copeland, the man is a genius). Second, this movie is not only a Herculean first effort for Director/Writer Ziad Doueiri (who had to seek funding and support from around the globe), but also the first respectable and universal Lebanese film to invade the world cinematic circuit. Third, the movie's inaccuracies are irrelevant especially to a worldwide audience that seeks entertainment and dramatic content; and this movie achieves both with adeptness. If you are a history buff and/or have zero tolerance for fiction and poetry (in pictures, words, and music) then this movie is not for you.
I wondered after the screening what it was that moved me to tears in West Beirut, and I could not remember one single moment. I later realized that this movie did for me (a Lebanese that grew up in the west part of Beirut during the war) what no other movie has done before it: tell OUR story. I felt like a released prisoner, like a person who regained the ability to speak after years of silence, like....you get the idea. The sad thing is that very few in the Western hemisphere either really cared or understood the Lebanese people or their war experience, but this movie opens a big door and sheds a great light into one of the many dark corners of this Middle Eastern region.
For the "universal" emigrant (whether Lebanese or Bosnian or Kosovar)this movie is a must see; it offer a lifeline to those with a past that is both lamented and cherished. As to the rest of you out there, this movie is not only highly entertaining, but also a refreshing and necessary look at a people and area of the world that have been unfortunately misunderstood and maligned for years. So kill your TV for one night and activate your energy to go see this movie, you will not regret it.
Ziad and West Beirut deserve big applause and respect for what they have achieved. They have broken barriers (how many Lebanese movies have you seen lately?), taboos ("In the West we are called camel jockeys"), and Western perceptions of the Lebanese in general. I frankly can't wait to see the fruits of Ziad's next film. Hurry man, We need the fix!
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