The damage done: New film examines impact of Lebanon’s civil war

The damage done: New film examines impact of Lebanon’s civil war
In ‘About a War,’ ex-fighters confront the legacy of the long and bloody conflict. (Supplied)
Updated 11 February 2019

The damage done: New film examines impact of Lebanon’s civil war

The damage done: New film examines impact of Lebanon’s civil war
  • 'About A War' is a compelling and often unsettling documentary co-directed by husband-and-wife duo Abi Weaver and Daniele Rugo
  • In ‘About a War,’ ex-fighters confront the legacy of the long and bloody conflict

DUBAI: “Everyone dirtied their hands. Everyone got involved. Everyone.” So says Ahed Bhar, a Palestinian born in Lebanon’s Shatila Refugee Camp in 1966 and a former fighter in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. He is talking about Lebanon’s disastrous civil war, which blighted the country from 1975-1990.

Bhar is one of three ex-soldiers from different factions who form the backbone of “About A War,” a compelling and often unsettling documentary co-directed by husband-and-wife duo Abi Weaver and Daniele Rugo, that sets out to examine the still-powerful impact that the war has on the country and its people.

As Rugo pointed out in his conversation with Arab News, no official account of Lebanon’s civil war has ever been laid out.

“When the war finished, they signed an agreement pardoning all crimes against civilians,” he said. “So the history of the war was really brushed under the carpet. As we delved more into trying to understand how people felt about the legacy of the war, we realized that there is quite a lot of unaddressed, unspoken trauma, and a general amnesia about the causes and the consequences. And what happened. There is no official account that is accepted by all parties in Lebanese society. There is no shared narrative. Most people will learn about the war depending on which sectarian group or political group they belong to. Or even their geographical group. They will each have their own version.

“What our film tries to do is to create a multi-perspective account, where we have three different fighters from three different groups, who lived through the war from different points of view, and the audience is asked to negotiate a position between these three,” he continued.

Those accounts, as you might expect, are often conflicting. But what comes across from all three is a sense that they were swept up in events that they didn’t really understand, but which they all believed placed them on the ‘right’ side.

“I thought everything I was doing was proper and may be ‘sanctified’ because I was doing it in the name of Christianity,” says Assad Chaftari, former head of intelligence for the Lebanese Forces in the war. Chaftari felt he had to combat what he saw as a growing Muslim influence — allied to the Palestinian cause — that threatened to create a ‘state within a state’ in Lebanon. He was 16 years old. “Now, of course, I see things very differently,” he says.

Rugo and Weaver’s film, which will screen in Lebanon this week — with shows in Beirut, Tripoli and Saida — marks one of the rare occasions when ex-fighters in the war have spoken publicly about their acts. And their documentary reveals that the scars it left are still raw.

Rugo suggested that one of the main reasons for that is precisely because the events and consequences of the war still aren’t really discussed openly.

“We discovered that there were quite a lot of people who really hadn’t addressed their trauma, and in particular the ex-fighters, because they had never spoken about what they’d done and most of them had never really started to come to terms with, or acknowledge, their roles in the combat,” he said.

Seeing that experience take place on screen — these aging men hearing themselves admit to some of the horrors they were a part of — can be hard to watch. It was, Rugo said, sometimes equally hard to film.

“Some of the interviews were very difficult,” he admitted. “We sat down with them for seven or eight hours on multiple occasions. So at the end of that, you’re drained anyway. And the material you’re recording is difficult. And you’re also going through a process where you empathize with a person and then you see him as someone who’s committed terrible deeds and been involved in a very bloody war. So you learn to (put aside) your own judgments and try and gain a deeper understanding of what motivated these people. That’s what we learned as filmmakers.

“On a more general level, we learned that unless we address the mistakes that have been made in the past, it’s very difficult to create a shared future. In particular in countries such as Lebanon, which are still marred by inequality, by sectarian divides, and whose geo-political situation is a precarious one,” he continued. “So this work on the past is really important to build a sustainable and more stable present and future.”


Saudi cultural, heritage centers showcase ancient treasures

Saudi cultural, heritage centers showcase ancient treasures
Ancient clay and stone architectural decorative elements on display at the National Museum in Riyadh. (Supplied)
Updated 19 May 2021

Saudi cultural, heritage centers showcase ancient treasures

Saudi cultural, heritage centers showcase ancient treasures
  • One of the oldest exhibits is “Kalial Wa Demnah,” a book of fables believed to be Indian in origin that was translated into Arabic in the 8th century by Abdullah Ibn Al-Muqaffa

JEDDAH: Saudi museums and cultural organizations celebrated International Museum Day on Tuesday by showcasing the Kingdom’s heritage and treasures to the world.
As many institutions around the world prepare to reopen after being closed for the past year because of the pandemic, the theme of the global event is “The Future of Museums: Recover and Reimagine.”
In keeping with this, the Saudi Ministry of Culture (MoC) marked Museum Day with a virtual concert at the National Museum in Riyadh, which was live-streamed on the ministry’s YouTube channel. The list of performers included Saudi Opera singer Sawsan Al-Bahiti, oud player and singer Abdullah Saad, cellist Mohammed Alguthmi, pianist Daniele Ciminiello and musicians Elvin and Joe Hodson.
Anyone interested in discovering some of the treasures from the National Museum’s collection can visit nationalmuseum.moc.gov.sa/virtualtour/ to take a virtual tour.
Meanwhile, the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies (KFCRIS) launched an online exhibition titled Wahj: Adornment of the Page. This showcase of the art of illumination and gilding includes 60 examples of various types of Islamic manuscripts that offer insight into this amazing craft.
Rasha Al-Fawaz, head of the Museum Collections Department at the center, told Arab News that what makes the exhibition so special is that it not only displays these precious Islamic manuscripts for the world to see, it also informs and educates visitors about the important features of illumination, and introduces them to some of the most famous calligraphers in Islamic history.
Visit my.matterport.com/show/?m=daj7MSiD3tu to browse the exhibition and view high-resolution images of each manuscript.
One of the oldest exhibits is “Kalial Wa Demnah,” a book of fables believed to be Indian in origin that was translated into Arabic in the 8th century by Abdullah Ibn Al-Muqaffa. Believed to be oldest illuminated copy of the book, the displayed manuscript, once owned by King Faisal, includes 65 colorful and decorative Baghdadi-style images.


Beauty mogul Huda Kattan condemns ‘unjust’ situation in Palestine

Beauty mogul Huda Kattan condemns ‘unjust’ situation in Palestine
Updated 18 May 2021

Beauty mogul Huda Kattan condemns ‘unjust’ situation in Palestine

Beauty mogul Huda Kattan condemns ‘unjust’ situation in Palestine

DUBAI: US-Iraqi beauty mogul Huda Kattan has become the latest celebrity to speak out on social media about the current bombardment of Gaza by Israel and the forced evictions faced by Palesntians.

A number of big names have recently expressed their support for families facing eviction from their homes in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah while also condemning Israeli airstrikes on Gaza.

In an Instagram video, Dubai-based entrepreneur and founder of the Huda Beauty brand, and skincare label Wishful, Kattan said: “I am really annoyed at some of the things that have been happening on some of the social media platforms.

“There have been very unjust things going on in Palestine right now. Hopefully, most of you have been able to experience the opportunity to buy your own home, and I just recently did. I can’t imagine somebody coming into the home that I built and telling me I have to leave and taking it away from me.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Huda Kattan (@huda)

The 37-year-old makeup artist also accused Instagram of hiding or “completely” deleting posts about Palestine. “It is really disappointing, because a lot of these outlets have outwardly said, ‘we are going to allow fake news.’ But they won’t allow us to post or protest?” she added.

“One of the gifts of social media is the equal opportunity to spread news and to spread the things of how we see them. But that’s not actual, it depends on which side you are fighting actually. Because if you are on the wrong side, it will get hidden, or deleted, or nobody is going to see it.

“I know I have a beauty brand and I am not supposed to talk about politics or whatever, but it is unjust, and I want to stand for what’s right whether or not it makes me unpopular,” Kattan said.


Saudi author takes an intimate look at facing death in lauded novel 

Saudi author takes an intimate look at facing death in lauded novel 
Updated 17 May 2021

Saudi author takes an intimate look at facing death in lauded novel 

Saudi author takes an intimate look at facing death in lauded novel 

CHICAGO: The youngest writer —and the first debut author — to be shortlisted in the history of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction is Saudi Arabia’s very own Aziz Mohammed for “The Critical Case of a Man Called K.” Hailing from AlKhobar, Mohammed’s novel follows a young man named K whose is hyper-aware of the monotony of his life. Everything, up until now, has been predictable, but when fatigue sends him to the hospital, K learns that he has leukemia. Translated into English by the award-winning Humphrey Davies, the story of K is a tale that takes an intimate look at a young man’s life when he is faced with illness and death.

K is introspective almost to the point of exhausting himself. He has a mother who has always taken care of him but equates reading books to being as harmful as smoking, a father who dies before he finishes high school and a sister and brother who do everything they are asked to do. K, on the other hand, fights the tedium while attempting to be a good son. Pulling references from his favorite authors, such as Kafka, Hemingway, and Tanizaki, he feels his life as an IT graduate, which was the chosen career path for financial reasons, is not what he wants to do, and he longs for something different.

Through K, Mohammed has created a character who is sensitive to how his presence affects everyone around him, as if he can see his sound waves rippling through people and altering them. He longs for inspiration to write a novel, but the environment does not concede to exploration or anything out of the ordinary.

Mohammed’s debut novel is a darkly humorous look into the life of a man who desires more in life when he is diagnosed with leukemia. The journey into illness is intimate and distressing, watching someone’s world turn upside down while at the same time offering an alternative to the mundane and predictable. There is rawness to life when faced with death, duty bound mothers, sons, and daughters, the tension and love between children and parents, and the fragility of the system when love and tradition don’t always move parallel to one another.

 


New York-based photographer Jinane Ennasri’s new photobook is a celebration of Morocco

New York-based photographer Jinane Ennasri’s new photobook is a celebration of Morocco
The 50-page photobook is a collection of images captured in the Northern region of Morocco. Supplied
Updated 17 May 2021

New York-based photographer Jinane Ennasri’s new photobook is a celebration of Morocco

New York-based photographer Jinane Ennasri’s new photobook is a celebration of Morocco

DUBAI: “A gift to Morocco and the rest of the world,” is  how New York-based photographer Jinane Ennasri describes her new photobook, “Live From Morocco.” 

The new photobook focuses on sharing the diverse beauty and culture of the North African country by way of grainy, pastel-tinged film photographs of people and everyday life in the Moroccan cities of Tangier, Fes, Oujda, Berkane, Al-Hoceima and the photographer’s birth city Taza.

The candid photos were shot betewen 2016 and 2019. Supplied

The candid photos, which were shot and collected between 2016 and 2019, capture the Northern region of Morocco in its rawest and purest form. “I find it beautiful that modernization and imported technology have not distorted Morocco to the extent of losing its substance or its essence,” shares Ennasri with Arab News. “Morocco has accepted these things and made a place for them, while safeguarding its sense of values and its history.”

Its 50-pages take readers on a journey through tiny villages, where older Moroccan men congregate with their bicycles, and through the turquoise Mediterannean waters where young sun-drenched men are diving from rocks. 

The candid photos depict the Northern region of Morocco in its rawest and purest form. Supplied

But the photobook does much more than depict everyday street life. By simply capturing the country how it is, Ennasri’s photo-journalistic approach encapsulates Moroccan people as complex subjects while challenging the false idea of the monolithic Arab experience. 

The author and shutterbug is in the throng of new Moroccan photographers who are redefining what it truly means to be Moroccan while pushing back against stereotypes.

“Live From Morocco” is Ennasri’s second photobook. Supplied

The 25-year-old, who first picked up a camera in 2012, reveals that “Live From Morocco” is a deeply personal project for her. “I’ve always felt obligated to make sure people knew where I came from,” says Ennasri, who identifies as a Moroccan-American-Muslim. “I keep in mind to reflect it in my work somehow.”

Ennasri immigrated with her family from Morocco to the United States in 1999. Her family settled in Queens, New York, before relocating to Jersey City.

The photobook is available online and at both 255 centre street and 185 mulberry street in Soho, New York. Supplied 

The creative attended Pace University in Lower Manhattan where she pursued a degree in Finance & Economics. Shortly after graduating, she worked at a prestigious law firm in New York before leaving the 9-5 life behind to pursue her passion, photography, as a full-time career.

“Live From Morocco” is Ennasri’s second photobook. She released “Perspective,” which consists of 60 photographs of subjects in France, Morocco and the UAE in 2017.


Mohamed Hadid, Oscar-nominated Farah Nabulsi join hands for video on Jerusalem

Mohamed Hadid took part in the video. Here, he poses with daugher Gigi Hadid. (File/ AFP)
Mohamed Hadid took part in the video. Here, he poses with daugher Gigi Hadid. (File/ AFP)
Updated 15 May 2021

Mohamed Hadid, Oscar-nominated Farah Nabulsi join hands for video on Jerusalem

Mohamed Hadid took part in the video. Here, he poses with daugher Gigi Hadid. (File/ AFP)

DUBAI: Famous Palestinians have starred in a video expressing their love for the city of Jerusalem.

“Why do I love Jerusalem?” the opening sequence of the short video reads, in a message that is . translated into English, French, Russian and Spanish.

The monochrome clip features Mohamed Hadid, real estate mogul and father of models Gigi and Bella, as well as BAFTA-winning filmmaker Farah Nabulsi, whose short film was also nominated for an Oscar at this year’s Academy Awards, mountaineer Mostafa Salameh and actors Yasmine Al Massri and Eyas Younis, among other celebrities.

From its food, to its people, diversity and “the smell of the morning,” the figures all came together to reminisce about what makes Jerusalem so special.

“O Jerusalem, we love you!  Palestinian Personalities from around the world share their message of love and solidarity for Jerusalem. A message of Unity, love and hope for justice and peace for all. Seventeen Palestinians from different backgrounds get together in a simple message of love to Jerusalem. Actors, artists, musicians, chefs, journalists, sportswomen and men, unite their voices for the love of this historic city,” the caption of the video reads.