x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Answers are at the crux of Lebanese film

The Disquiet, a short film that investigates Lebanon's history of earthquakes, screens Wednesday at the Toronto Film Festival.

A scene from The Disquiet, a short film that investigates Lebanon's history of earthquakes. Courtesy Toronto International Film Festival
A scene from The Disquiet, a short film that investigates Lebanon's history of earthquakes. Courtesy Toronto International Film Festival
The Disquiet, a short film directed by Ali Cherri, investigates Lebanon's history of earthquakes. It was screened recently in Toronto and Cherri has been invited to show it at a festival in the UAE later this year.
What is it about Lebanon's earthquakes that drew you to make this movie? 
Actually, I wanted to work on something in relation to the Arab uprising. One of the questions was: how can you deal with a subject that is still happening and where we don't have enough critical distance to talk about it? My idea was to shift the subject from talking about the catastrophe or disaster we're living in to something scientific that we can have clear answers to. In Lebanon, we sit on two or three fault lines and very soon we could have a major earthquake and a tsunami. And it's an actual danger.
How is this a metaphor for the region's current political climate?
I'm just limiting myself to scientific research and not trying to speak in metaphors. I'm not putting any political reading on the subject, but at the same time, it's open to a lot of interpretation. In a way, it's hiding behind science in order to talk about a volatile situation.
There is a noticeable shift near the end of The Disquiet. Why?
There's something about the last scene where something sur-natural- supernatural - erupts in the forest. I'm looking at the fault lines in the forest, trying to register and walk on the traces of our imminent destruction. This, for me, constitutes [where] you go to the edge of our understanding of our language of the pre-catastrophe, and then I leave the camera behind and I walk inside this forest, which is somehow what happens after the catastrophe. The question is: after the catastrophe what takes place? What happens to language, to time, to space?
So what happens next?
That's what I'm working on right now. This film is the first part of a project and the second part is an exhibition in January.
* Neil Parmar
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