The Sea Ahead
Expanding on his 2015 Palme d’Or winning short Waves 98, Ely Dagher’s compelling debut feature takes the pulse of present-day Beirut to extraordinarily prescient and chilling effect.
Manal Issa, Roger Azar, Yara Abou Haidar
France-Lebanon-Belgium-USA-Qatar 2021. 117min
The Party Film Sales
With English subtitles
Creeping malaise engulfs the frame as Jana (Manal Issa) emerges from Beirut’s brightly-lit airport and into the still night. Returning home unannounced from Paris, she crosses the dimly lit city alone, finally falling asleep fully clothed on her parents’ sofa. Despite their nervous efforts to welcome her back, Jana’s numb silence and wordless appraisal of the dramatically changed streets is jarring. She reconnects with her one-time lover Adam and with him dives into Beirut’s murky underbelly – the bracing cold of a night-time swim, the daze of a late-night party, the fragile mirage of escaping from the world. Around them, the city feels suspended in anxious limbo – there are rumours of a tsunami. And memories of Lebanon’s unresolved past bleed into its intangible future.
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