(Baddi Chouf )

Joana Hadjithomas, Khalil Joreige
France 2008 | 75 Min. | 35 mm, OmeU
Q&A with: Irit Neidhart

July 2006. A war breaks out in Lebanon. A new war, but not just one more war. A war that crush­es the hopes of peace and the momen­tum of our gen­er­a­tion. We no longer know what to write, what sto­ries to recount, what images to show. We ask our­selves: “What can cinema do?” That ques­tion, we decide to trans­late it into real­i­ty. We go to Beirut with an “icon”, an actress who, to us, sym­bol­izes cinema, Cather­ine Deneuve. She will meet our pre­ferred actor, Rabih Mroué. Togeth­er, they will drive through the regions dev­as­tat­ed by the con­flict. Through their pres­ence, their meet­ing, we hope to find the beauty which our eyes no longer per­ceive. It is the begin­ning of an unpre­dictable, unex­pect­ed adven­ture…

Cather­ine Deneuve
embod­ies a cer­tain idea of cinema, of a cinema with a long his­to­ry. She also embod­ies intel­li­gence. You feel she always main­tains the right dis­tance. Her film choic­es reflect a spirit, a trend of thought. Catherine’s pres­ence cre­ates a dream­like atmos­phere, an improb­a­ble vision amid the ruins and the land­scapes of South Lebanon. In fact, she radi­ates fic­tion, an aura which reminds us of the def­i­n­i­tion given by Walter Ben­jamin “the appear­ance of a remote­ness that seems so close to us”. Rabih, some­how, rep­re­sents us, the film makers, in the film. He is an impor­tant artist and per­former who works on Lebanese real­i­ty and cre­ates a new rela­tion to the­atre and rep­re­sen­ta­tion. More­over, Rabih is from a vil­lage of South Lebanon, Bint El Jbeil, which was almost com­plet­ly destroyed during the 2006 war. He had not returned there since then, and in his own words, he was weary of going back. We were also inter­est­ed by his atti­tude. So we sug­gest­ed to Rabih to drive to the south with Cather­ine and go to his vil­lage. As he put it: “Things with her will be dif­fer­ent.” So there he was on the images, by her side, although he great­ly mis­trusts images. (Joana Had­jithomas and Khalil Jor­eige)