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Beirut the Encounter

Borhane Alaouié | 1981 | 101′

Take a trip through 1980s Beirut via Borhane Alaouiés classic.

Zeina and Haidar met at university, but lost touch of each other due to the division of the city during the Lebanese Civil War. When telephone communication is restored between the East and West sides of Beirut, they attempt to see each other one last time before she emigrates to the US. An impossible encounter transforms into cathartic confessions where each side of the city is trying in vain, to be heard by the other.

About the director

Born in 1941 in Arnoun, South of Lebanon, Borhane Alaouié studied filmmaking in INSAS in Brussels. Influenced by the state of rebellious euphoria that took hold of the Arab intelligentsia in the 70s and by May 1968 in France, Alaouié came back to Beirut to make films. He met Lebanese filmmakers such as Maroun Baghdadi, Jocelyne Saab, Jean Chamoun, Randa Chahal, and others and collaborated with them to establish new grounds for Lebanese cinema. This new generation pushed Lebanese cinema forward into a more aesthetical form that addresses a variety of subjects tackling human and social matters, individual and collective destinies. This cinematic wave aimed to reflect the history of the city of Beirut and the Lebanese society, its individuals and its transformations.

Alaouié made Beirut, the Encounter, his second feature fiction, in 1981. The film got selected in Venice Film Festival in the same year and competed for the Berlinale Golden Bear in 1982. That same year, in July, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon pushed Alaouié to seek exile in Paris. In 2006, Alaouié returned to Lebanon to make his third and final fiction film. For several years, he taught filmmaking in Lebanon influencing a large number of younger Lebanese filmmakers.

Borhane Alaouié’s major obsession consisted in his cinematic exploration of human suffering and the confrontation of the individual to his destiny, his history and his memory. He passed away in September 2021 in Brussels, leaving a great legacy behind.

DIRECTOR: Borhane Alaouié
COUNTRY: Lebanon, Tunisia and Belgium


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