THE ONE MAN VILLAGE
(Semaan Bil Day'ia )

Simon El Habre
Lebanon 2008 | 86 Min. | BetaSP, OmeU
Q&A with: Irit Neidhart

Semaan El Habre, the filmmaker’s uncle, is the sole inhab­i­tant of the vil­lage of Ain El-Hala­zoun. In 1982, the civil war in Lebanon forced the vil­lagers to leave; their houses were destroyed in the con­flict. Only Semaan has returned for good. For the past five years he has been living in a house sur­round­ed by ruins, with only his ani­mals and his mem­o­ries for com­pa­ny. The scars left by the war are not imme­di­ate­ly obvi­ous. At first sight, life in the desert­ed ghost vil­lage seems rather idyl­lic: a snow-cov­ered moun­tain panora­ma, a small farm, a con­tent man who loves his cows and who always has a humor­ous remark on the tip of his tongue. Only grad­u­al­ly do the scars inflict­ed by the war come to the sur­face: in the scenery, the his­to­ry of the El Habre family and in Semaan’s per­son­al life. Each story in the film pro­vides a glimpse of the his­to­ry of Lebanon and the sit­u­a­tion of a coun­try half-way between for­get­ting and remem­ber­ing. A film in which horror and beauty, pain and poetry are side by side. An unob­tru­sive reflec­tion on ori­gins, ties forged with places and people, the con­se­quences of war and the attempt to accept painful mem­o­ries as part of one’s life.