Friday, July 30, 2010

LFF 2010: Director Close-Up

LFF 2010 : Cent visages pour un seul jour / Miat wajh li yom wahed

Dans ce film, Christian Ghazi joint narration dramatique et image documentaire dans une perspective d’analyse de la société libanaise dans le début des années 1970. Un des rares films Arabes qui présentent une nouvelle forme audiovisuelle de narration. Ce film est l’unique œuvre qui a survécu à la destruction de la filmographie de Ghazi. Entre 1964 et 1988 Ghazi a réalisé 41 documentaires qui ont tous été détruits. Ses premiers 14 films ont été brûlés par la censure. Le reste de ses films a connu le même sort en 1988, aux mains d’une milice locale. Seule une copie 35 mm est encore à l’étranger, dont a été la copie Betacam qui vous est présentée.


Christian Ghazi was born on 19-11-34 in Antioch, Turkey, from a French mother and a Lebanese father. His family moved to Syria then to Lebanon in 1939 where they settled, and where he studied, worked, lived and witnessed the destruction of all his work – the burning of all his films. While working in the newspaper “Le soir” and as a philosophy teacher, Ghazi was studying music at the Académie Libanaise des Beaux Arts (ALBA – 1959). Later he worked at the TV station “Lubnan wal Mashreq”, and at the same time started to direct documentaries. His first twelve documentaries commissioned by the Ministry of Tourism in 1964 were all banned and burned for being subversive. He had filmed people at the Casino du Liban and in restaurants, and the miserable peasants in the North and South of the country, then matched the video of the Casino with the audio of the peasants and vise versa. In 1987 while he was away in Africa, his house in Beirut was devastated by a local militia, and again all his films (the only existing negatives) were burned. Between these two dates (1964 and 1987), this veteran filmmaker had an abundant production – 29 films – mostly about the Palestinian resistance, but also about the Lebanese war, the misery, the refugees…

The only remaining of his films is “One hundred faces for a single day”, which he considers as his “manifesto of cinema” (the only copy of this film was found in the Syrian Cinema Institute; the film had been in competition at an alternative film festival in Damascus in 1972 where it won the critics award). Twelve years after his great loss, he directs “The coffin of the memory” (2001), a documentary “about the political insularity and apathy prevalent among so many Lebanese, despite the violence suffered by the people in the region, in Palestine and Iraq”, according to his own words. Since 1959 Christian Ghazi has also written four poetry collections.

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