WEST BEIRUT / 1998 / ZIAD DOUEIRI / ZIZO / 2 DEC, 7 PM
While the French missionaries want to teach them French and the religious fundamentalists want them to open the Koran, Tarek and Omar, instead pick up the camera—the super light Super 8 film camera that made home videos possible—and go about filming their people, their lives, their culture; and find a friend in May: a Christian refugee girl that has come to stay in West Beirut. There is only one problem: they live in West Beirut and the film would be developed in East Beirut, but it 1975, the year of the civil war that has divided the land into East Beirut and West Beirut, into Christians and Muslims. As the three cycle into the ‘other’s’ territory under the gaze of armed terrorists on terraces will they ever be able to come out? Not before they encounter a myth in real.
Autobiographical in part, West Beirut is the directorial debut of Ziad Doureiri, the Lebanese-born cinematographer, who is best known for his works in Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs and many more. An artist who has worked in the East and the West, this film is a dialogue between the two regions, the two cultures, and the two ideologies; Tarek’s father tells the mother, ‘the West has never been able to understand the East’. -Gaurav Puri