It’s a little known fact that during the early ’60s, uni researchers and the military in Lebanon collaborated on the country’s rocket programme for the glory of the nation. Even though local papers were full of it and newsreels captured the launches of the delightfully named Cedar 1, 2 and 3, no one today seems to remember these potentially iconic images of the first rocket launches in the Arab world.
The interviewees and archive footage in this doc are as startling as the notion of students and staff at Beirut’s Armenian University happily concocting home-made rocket fuel. But the film’s directors lack the celluloid nous to visualise their key theme of the erasure of utopianism in Lebanon’s popular memory – so they don’t get the most from their rich material. The clunky voiceover is also a real trial. Still, this amazing true story has so much resonance in terms of turbulent Middle East history and the recent reawakening of idealism that it remains a worthwhile watch.