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JOCELYNE SAAB’S BEIRUT TRILOGY
Wednesday, July 28
July will feature Jocelyne Saab’s Beirut trilogy, a series of landmark works in Lebanese cinema and masterpieces of the essay film form. Trained as a radio and television journalist, Saab turned her attention to documentary films at the start of the Lebanese Civil War. Saab’s commitment to and intimate interactions with the displaced, the exiled, and the dispossessed, mark her films and her quest to capture Beirut as uniquely her own.
Beirut, Never Again (1976, 35m) dir Jocelyne Saab. Every morning, when the nightly battles between militias have ceased, Jocelyne Saab roams around Beirut’s city center filming traces of daily life. Gunfire and song mix with a poetic voiceover written by the Lebanese writer and painter Etel Adnan. The city of Beirut has become a place where everyone, even children, have become soldiers, looters, and scavengers. Yet life persists.
Letter from Beirut (1978, 48m) dir Jocelyne Saab. Three years after the beginning of the Civil War, the filmmaker returns to her city for several months. Living between Lebanon and France, she tries to readapt to daily life in Beirut. Saab wanders the streets of the irrevocably changed city, rides buses, chats with refugees and peacekeepers, and reflects on the war’s toll during a brief moment of peace.
Beirut, My City (1982, 35m) dir Jocelyne Saab. Considered by Saab to be her most important film, Beirut, My City returns Saab and her collaborator, the playwright and director Roger Assaf, to the shell of her 150-year-old childhood home following Israel’s July 1982 invasion. She films the aftermath of the Israeli siege, even capturing the intimate farewells as members of the Palestinian Liberation Organization withdraw from Beirut. The sound of Israeli jets are constant, yet Saab finds glimmers of hope and solidarity amidst the chaos.