West Beirut


Time Out says

Much has been made of Ziad Doueiri's service as assistant or second unit cameraman on all Tarantino's films, but his assured, semi-autobiographical debut as writer and director is strong enough to be judged on its own terms. Set in 1975, it recreates the initial stages of Lebanon's civil war through the experiences of three teenagers: Muslim friends Tarek (the director's younger brother Rami) and Omar (Chamas), and the former's Christian neighbour May (Al Amin). Not that religion or politics concern them very much; while Tarek is happy to torment teachers at his French high school and spout a few fashionable slogans now and then, he's more preoccupied with pop, sex, smoking and his beloved cine camera, and barely understands why mum wants to leave the city against dad's wishes. Indeed, the division of Beirut into Christian-controlled East and Muslim West is simply an excuse to skip school... until he needs to get his Super-8 film printed up over the frontline. With a light touch wisely applied both to the chaos of a city in turmoil and to the rites-of-passage narrative arc, Doueiri's film succeeds by offering up sturdy performances, attention to detail, humour, drama and a refusal to sermonise or take sides. It marks Doueiri as a talent to watch.


Release details

110 mins

Cast and crew

Ziad Doueiri
Ziad Doueiri
Rami Doueiri
Mohammad Chamas
Rola Al Amin
Carmen Loubbos
Joseph Bou Nassar
Liliane Nemry
Leila Karam
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