Documentary film written and directed by Mary Jirmanus Saba (Lebanon / 2017 / 99′ / Arabic with Engl. subtitles). Director of photography: Karam Ghossein, Mary Jirmanus Saba. Ziad Chahoud. Edited by Louly Sfeif. World premiere at Berlinale Forum (2017).
A car with a loudspeaker on its roof is driving through southern Lebanon. The old man at the wheel is calling for people to join a demonstration to support their brothers and sisters who’ve occupied a tobacco company and are now being besieged by the army. His words come from the past, as he’s referring to events from 1973 – events that few remember today. Neither the protests made by the tobacco farmers from the south against the large landholders’ monopoly nor the strike for better working conditions by workers at a Beirut chocolate factory are anchored in the country’s collective memory. All recollection of this social movement was erased by the civil war and society has since been marked by deep sectarian divisions. Looking for both a lost era and strategies able to be applied to current struggles, the filmmaker sets out in search of clues. Starting from the death of a young woman killed during the strike, she asks questions of the activists of the time, archival photos, documentaries from the 1970s, her own person and the possibilities for militant action in film and society. The layering of these diverse materials allows the old man’s pleas to reverberate in the present day.