Archive of films West Beirut / West Beyrouth
Lebanon / France / Belgium / Norway
1998, 105 min
Section: A Week of Lebanese Cinema
The Lebanese capital, April 1975. Open conflict between Muslims and Christians breaks out: the Civil War has started and Beirut becomes a war zone. But affable, 15-year-old scamp Tarek and his friends don’t succumb to skepticism. This humor-tinged look at a trying time that the director himself experienced is considered by many the best Lebanese film ever.
The Lebanese capital, April 1975. Open conflict between Muslims and Christians breaks out: the Civil War has started and Beirut becomes a war zone. But affable, 15-year-old scamp Tarek and his friends Omar and May don’t succumb to skepticism. The war – a major episode in their young lives whose pernicious effects they only realize when they’re older – grants them limitless, much-desired freedom. Suddenly the disintegrating system allows them to experience with far greater intensity life’s rituals of initiation: love, friendship, and sex. Indeed, as the filmmaker claims, “Despite the sheer horror of it, war informs and educates: the individual, child or adult, is forced to consider his own existence and the respect of the most fundamental human values.” Aided by characters that can’t help but be reminiscent of Truffaut’s The 400 Blows, Doueiri’s humorous and emotionally complex autobiographical look at these difficult years met with exceptional box-office success.
About the director
Ziad Doueiri (b. 1963, Beirut) left his native Lebanon for the USA at age 20 to study at the University of San Diego and UCLA. During that period he shot movies on Super 8 and 16mm. He was assistant camera and second unit cameraman on Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and Jackie Brown, occupying the same position for the shooting of From Dusk Till Dawn and Four Rooms. West Beirut is his feature debut. Doueiri lives and works as a DOP in France and in the United States.
About the film
Color, 35 mm
|Section:||A Week of Lebanese Cinema|
|Dir. of Photography:||Richard Gale|
|Art Director:||Rami Doueiri|
|Producer:||Rachid Bouchareb, Jean Brehat, Bjorn Eivind Aarskog|
|Production:||3B Productions, La Sept Arte|
|Coproduction:||Douri Films, Ciné Libre Eliane Dubois, Exposed Film Productions, Bjorn Eivind Aarskog|
|Cast:||Mohamad Chamas, Rola Al Amin|