Support local cinema

“Marcedes” (pronounced in Arabic) is one of three local films now showing at Beirut’s Sofil Metropolis theatre and tells the story of Lebanon’s chronic civil violence through the headlights of the country’s most loved German automobile. The film showcases an impressive amount of pre-war footage of downtown Beirut–back when it was actually a living breathing center of town, and not the upscale-only “centre-ville” central Beirut has become today.

More chilling, however is Marcedes’ footage of the 1980s, when armed young boys paraded around the city, sometimes wearing Halloween masks, while joyfully shooting up buildings and screaching their cars through the streets with ‘donuts’ now increasingly referred to as “drifting.”

The lighthearted ease with which the country was steadily demolished is almost nauseating at times. But only about 20 people, mainly hipsters, showed up to this evening’s 7:30 screening, leaving about 200 empty seats.

It’s a shame that local cinema is still relegated to art house theaters, when it is the boys of Beirut and Tripoli who were happily shooting up their own neighborhoods just last week, that really need to see this film. That this festival is called “a month of Lebanese cinema” indicates the struggle local artists face in convincing rich Lebanese businessmen to open their stalls and banks to screening and funding local content. Good for Sofil Theatre for doing just that, but hurry because there is only two more weeks left in the festival. Perhaps if more of us showed up, this “month of Lebanese cinema” could become more of a year-long thing.   

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