The word ‘war’ is feared by all
Everything that one can think of
Environment, Economics, Politics
All joins in the fray
Man against man
Sending dancers of death into the battlefield
Changing the landscape, death to all
Leaving behind a stage, full of agony
What can we say,
When wars are waged?
Maroun Bagdadi was arguably Lebanon’s most prominent filmmaker, one whose work has been seen all over the world. One of his best-known films, “Houroub Saghira” (Little Wars), a narrative on the brutalities of Lebanon’s civil war, was shown at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival, drawing this comment from a prominent film critic: “To make a film about Beirut that eschews polemics for more universal, more human issues is an achievement.” In 1975, he directed his first feature film, Beyrouth ya Beyrouth, Koullouna Lil Watan, a 75-minute documentary produced in 1979, won the Jury Honor Prize at the International Leipzig Festival Documentary and Animated Film.
Set in 1975, West Beirut recreates the initial stages of Lebanon’s civil war through the experiences of three teenagers: Muslim friends Tarek and Omar, and the Christian neighbor May, not that religion or politics concern them very much. Tarek is more preoccupied with pop, sex, smoking and his beloved cine camera. Indeed, the division of Beirut into Christian-controlled East and Muslim West is simply an excuse to skip school. The three of them have several adventures in the chaotic streets patrolled by Muslim militias.