Friday, August 10, 2012

43. West Beyrouth (1998) *

Tarek (played by the Director's brother Rami Doueriri) is a young guy attending the French School in Beirut.  After giving the teacher cheek he is sent out of class and witnesses a massacre.  Its 1975 and Beirut is divided into two parts - East for Christians and West for Muslims - as a war begins.  

Ziad Doueiri's movie is a story about growing up, its a love story to the city and to super 8 film.  Its funny, touching and the characters Tarek, Omar and May are very likeable.    This fictionalised account based on Ziad's own experiences of the war illustrates how cinema can be a much more effective way of conveying a message than a documentary.  A movie to watch over and over again.  

I end with this quotation from Doueiri:
“My advice to other filmmakers is if you want to replicate a war, do it in Beirut. The army supplied me with troops and even a helicopter to shoot scenes. Sometimes, I would be risking my life hanging out of the copter with a camera and Beirutis would climb onto their roofs and wave. We would frantically radio to the crew below to ask residents not to be so hospitable and stay inside.” 

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