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Sweet Life, Bitter Beirut

Panoptic – Signs of Life

Sweet Life, Bitter Beirut

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Rana Eid is a sound designer. Film after film, her sound visions and supervisions have marked the work of great masters (from Malas in Soullam ila Dimashk – Ladder to Damascus to Salhab in Al-Wadi – The Valley) and that of the best of the new generations in the Middle East (Al-Rakib Al-Khaled – The Immortal Sergeant by Ziad Kalthoum, here at Locarno in 2014, or Tramontane by Vatche Boulghourijan). It is therefore not surprising that in her directing debut this sensibility reveals – from the title, Panoptic, on – a further ramification. What does surprise is the range of her evolution in a political and architectural sense. In Panoptic Beirut is filmed like a kaleidoscope in which the underground escapes are matched by similar counter-escapes on the surface, a dual visionary perspective that penetrates one by one the buildings of power that symbolize the succession of occupations and prisons and the current state of endemic internal division. And then demonstrations in support of the national army, marathons, nightclub evenings, the recent rubbish crisis that affected all of Beirut, marine submersions that discover remains from past wars on the seabed, a very sweet Kafkaesque letter to her father that accompanies us for the whole film. A single mysterious poem with which Rana Eid documents – reinventing them – unpronounceable truths and memories that burn.

Lorenzo Esposito

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