Diaries from Lebanon (2024) Berlinale 2024

February 19th, 2024
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Myriam El Hajj | with Joumana Haddad, Perla Joe Maalouli, Georges Moufarrej | Lebanon / France / Qatar / Saudi Arabia 2024 | Arabic, Subtitles: English | 110′ | Colour | World premiere | Documentary form

Lebanon’s ongoing conflict is complex. Over the years many filmmakers have documented various aspects of the nation’s continuing strife that seems to stem from internal struggles as well as external forces. All very confusing for the rest of the world: War and Lebanon have almost become synonymous in our collective consciousness.

Three people share their input in this new documentary from Myriam El Hajj, founder member of Rawiyat – Sisters in Film, a collective of women filmmakers from the Arab world. Diaries from Lebanon is her second documentary and premieres in Berlinale’s Panorama section. It takes us back to 2018 and brings together three voices. The first is a feminist writer, poet and activist named Joumana who stands for election to the Lebanese parliament, defying a political system that has been suffocating her country for 40 years. The film shows how Joumana is voted in, only to be fraudulently ousted the very next day, leaving her supporters furious and leading to more unrest and violent demonstrations in the streets of Beirut.

Another feisty woman, Perla Joe, soon becomes a symbol of this uprising, capturing the imagination of young people who feel increasingly marginalised in a place where war has become the only unifying force in their collective experience.

Meanwhile the past rears its head in the shape of Georges, a vociferous veteran of the Lebanese Civil War which lasted from 1975 to 1990. One of the original fighters, he lost a leg in the conflict but still believes in ‘the glory’ of war, rather than ‘the pity’ as Great War poet and soldier Wilfred Owen famously cited in 1917/18. Glory seems to be thin on the ground in this Middle Eastern nation, but the dream of peace and a worthwhile future is now the ultimate battle. @MeredithTaylor

PANORAMA 2024 | BERLINALE 15-25 February 2024


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