[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]The Insult
Special Screening – Lebanon Gala
Dir. Ziad Doueiri
The Richter Scale says: It could have been so simple. If only one of the involved parties hadn’t insulted the other, or if only that second party had allowed the first party to apologize and not insulted him back in a more damaging way and if only that first party hadn’t reacted to the insult of the second party by punching said party in the ribs. It could have been so simple… and yet, it was inevitable. Some wounds cut much deeper than how we relate to people we just met. These wounds inform how we get along in the world, how we respond to simple questions and how we deal with conflict. Lebanese filmmaker Ziad Doueiri explores these wounds in present-day Lebanon. It’s been decades since the Civil War, but the tensions between the Christians and the Muslims still run high and Doueiri explores them through a conflict between a Lebanese Christian and a Palestinean refugee who have two charged interactions that lead them to a trial. This film got an Academy-Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film in the most recent edition, the first time Lebanon gets that nomination, and while the topic is in a way very specific to that region, the way it’s handled is very digestible for a Hollywood audience, for better and for… more melodrama than necessary.
Toni Hanna (Adel Karam) is a Lebanese Christian with a pregnant wife named Shirine (Rita Hayek) who gets angry when some workers try to fix a pipe in his house. One of the workers, Palestinian Yasser Salameh (Kamel El Basha), calls Toni a “fucking prick”. When Yasser tries to apologize for that insult, Toni can’t help but insult him back by saying that Ariel Sharon should have killed them all. This leads to Yasser hitting him and the situation eventually leads to Shirine giving birth earlier and the baby being born in a delicate situation. The case is taken to trial and as the situation escalates, it becomes of interest to the Palestinians living in Lebanon. Every interaction in this film is charged with history, whether it’s explicit or not, and through the performances we get the temper of each of these two characters, both very proud, but in different ways. Toni is more explosive and can’t help saying more than needs to be said, while Yasser is calmer until taken to his breaking point. The lawyers steal the film though. Camille Salameh is Wajdi Wehbe, Toni’s lawyer, an old man with very vivid memories of the Civil War and a charismatic presence, and Diamand Abou Abboud is Nadine, Yasser’s lawyer, a young idealist, very prepared and, in an example of the melodrama that sometimes gets this film in trouble, Wajdi’s daughter.
Like every good courtroom drama, this is a film that favors the acting and the story. Cinematographer Tommaso Fiorilli gives it a warm aesthetic, giving it a certain familiarity with these streets and an ease with mainstream audiences. It’s one of those stories told to consider a conflict that has yet to be resolved and through that explore how certain wounds never fully heal. Being more specific would imply revealing another twist in the plot that, even though it’s just as ridiculous as the one I blurted out, does lead to an exploration that is worth experiencing.
7-26-2018 Juárez Theater – 20:30 hrs[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]M-1
Official Selection Mexican Feature
Dir. Luciano Pérez Savoy
The Richter Scale says: Film has become a narrative medium mainly to market it. Stories sell and that’s why we associate film with storytelling, which is why writing a story for film has become an art for those who want to do something new with it and a formula for those who want to make money off it. Nevertheless, film began strictly as an audiovisual medium and no one is obligated to tell a story. Cinema is also used to explore an environment and to give us an idea of what someone lives through. M-1 seems mostly to be an excuse for filmmaker Luciano Pérez Savoy, a Mexican who studied Sarajevo, to offer us a tour through the streets he visited through some incredible encounters and through monologues that don’t make much sense, following a character simply known as “M” who sells drugs in nightclubs and restaurants in Sarajevo. Sometimes he sits down to listen to a customer tell the story about the birds outside his house or listen to a woman singing. We know nothing about him. In fact, he barely speaks.
Savoy makes a few curious decisions with this film. One of them is to take us into a cinema with his “protagonist”, or the closest thing to a protagonist one can have in a film like this, to watch The Quiet Man with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. We spend about five minutes, possibly more, watching whole scenes from that movie. We don’t know if it informs the tastes of this character (it’s an old movie, which would tell us that he specifically sought out a theater that shows older movies), or if the filmmaker simply wanted us to join him in his favorite cinema in the city. We also spend a lot of time at a dark night club hearing electronic music with lights flashing, but not much information on what we’re seeing. There’s a section about half-way through a movie during daylight where we follow a woman on a bus crossing through Sarajevo.
What does the filmmaker mean to say with all of this? Does he want to say something? Maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t, or maybe Luciano Pérez Savoy simply wanted to experiment filming his favorite places and that makes this film fascinating. He keeps most of the action in static long takes (one of them has three people in a bathroom, two women and a man) and giving us a taste of what it was probably like to live there for a while, showing how attractive the night life is and that feeling of moving from one place to another to see what different people might be doing and what adventures they may have.
7-26-2018 Teatro Principal – 16:00 hrs[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]