Creative Documentary | Running Time: 65 minutes
2021 / Arabic dialogue
Country: Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United States of America (USA)Directed by: Karim Kassem
Based in New York, he directed several short films, and his first feature, “Only the Winds” (2020), was screened at the 50th International Film Festival Rotterdam. His experience surviving the 2020 Beirut explosion inspired his second, “Octopus”, which won Best Film at the 2021 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam.
Lebanese filmmaker Karim Kassem returned to Beirut in 2020, intending to make another film altogether. Then a cataclysmic explosion at the seaport – the largest non-nuclear explosion on record – threw the city into shock and turmoil. While recriminations raged over the government corruption and neglect that led to the disaster, Kassem began filming its aftermath, recording without commentary the smouldering rubble and broken windows and the haunted faces of survivors. At the same time, we see signs of a city trying to heal. In the absence of a narration - which could never do justice to the horror of what happened - the only sounds come from the ambient score and of people stoically getting on with their lives: children playing football, the whirr of a vacuum cleaner and news reports saying the search for bodies continues. Kassem’s quietly moving act of witness deservedly won the top award in the Envision section of IDFA. This film is supported by the Red Sea Fund.