West Beirut (1998)

West Beirut (1998)

A young boy is shocked to learn about the civil war that breaks out in his country

The Very Best

8.4

Movie

Belgium, France
Arabic, French
Comedy, Drama, Romance
1998
ZIAD DOUEIRI
Carmen Lebbos, Liliane Nemri, Mohamad Chamas
105 min

What it's about

In 1975, the long slog of civil war has recently begun in Beirut. A high school student named Tarek is thrilled by all the chaos and upheaval because he no longer needs to go to school. Plus, he finds negotiations between West and East Beirut interesting. Tarek is accompanied by his buddy Omar as the two shoot Super 8 films of the tumult around them. The jovial mood takes a tragic turn when Tarek's parents start fighting over whether or not to flee Beirut.

The take

Director Ziad Doueiri is one of the first filmmakers to successfully break through to the global stage out of Lebanon, and West Beirut, which was selected as the country’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 1999 Academy Awards, is one of his most accomplished films.

The film stars the director's son Rami Doueiri as Tarek, a young Lebanese boy who loves to shoot with his Super 8 camera and go on small adventures with his friends Omar and May in the streets of Beirut. But one day, he is faced with the ugly truth of the Lebanese civil war. As he learns more and more about the divided state of his country, he sets out on a mission in search of any lingering hope to help keep the beautiful idea he has of his country locked safe and sound in his brain. “Whoever asks about your religion, you tell them I’m Lebanese.”

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