Thursday December 4, 2014 at 8pm sharp.
Philippe Aractingi’s latest film, Heritages (Mirath) explores deeply Lebanese issues of memory, identity, and migration.
As he flees yet another war in Lebanon in July 2006, director Philippe Aractingi realizes that, like him, his ancestors have been fleeing wars for five generations.
Gripped by the burning desire to tell his own children the past that is “not to be told,” Philippe sets on a journey through history to understand and pass on its lessons. His ancestors’ itinerary intersect with Middle Eastern history: the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the French mandate, the creation of Israel, Pan-Arabism, the Lebanese civil war and beyond.
Experimenting with a radical new filmmaking style, Philippe Aractingi interlaces directed scenes where photos, archives and home videos subtly interact. Through these he tells the story of his family’s travels through the Levant. A film about exile, memory and transmission, filled with emotion and honesty.
Among the many questions he raises, the one that unites the film’s numerous stories is a dilemma that plagues many Lebanese today: should I stay or should I go?
Philippe Aractingi is a Franco-Lebanese director born in 1964. Self-taught, he begins his career by taking photographs of Beirut’s daily life during the Lebanese civil war, and directs his first documentary at age 21. During an unstable period, he trusts his intuition, and launches into a profession that was almost absent in his country at the time.
In 1989, he leaves Lebanon, and moves to France. He opens himself up to the world, and until 2001, he directs around twenty films. As a multi-faceted director, he dedicates a film to the archeology in Sri Lanka, observes the daily lives of acrobat children in Morocco, and contemplates the giraffes in South Africa, always moving from one topic to another with the same passion of travel and discovery. In 1993, driven by the desire to experiment with various media, Philippe co-writes Les Mèresà l’Epreuve du Liban with Lela Chikhani-Nacouz.
Meanwhile, he continues to devote part of his work to Lebanon, and to the aftermath of the war. Just as the latter ends, and as the borders are reopening between the Lebanese, he embarks on a journey to encounter the other by capturing the suffering of Lebanese women, the forgotten witnesses amidst the clashes. Through Mothers’ Eyes (1992) Through Mothers’ Eyes was released in Lebanon, Portugal, and France where it reached a record audience. In a poetic film, Beirut of Stone and Memory (1992), he reveals the scars of the city, accompanying Nadia Tueni’s poems with his images of Beirut’s ruins.
In 2001, Philippe Aractingi moves back to Lebanon and founds Fantascope Production; a content-driven company specialized in the production of all-format documentaries.With Bosta (2005/6), his first feature-length fiction film, he offers an innovative look at Lebanon by directing a musical, a first for post-war Lebanon. With its 140 000 entries in Lebanon, a record number in 25 years, this road movie, both entertaining and realistic, reunites the Lebanese with their cinema, and paves the way for a new generation of films.
When in 2006 a new war breaks out in Lebanon, Philippe Aractingi, used to filming in a state of urgency, decides to shoot his second feature film. Filmed two days after the end of the war, Under the Bombs (2008) places two professional actors at the heart of the action, in the South of Lebanon, and confronts them with real actors (civilians, soldiers, rescue teams, etc.) who embody their actual roles. This fictional story with a real-life setting, which combines improvised and written scenes, has been distributed in around twenty countries. Under the Bombs has been selected at the Venice Festival, The Sundance Festival, and the Dubai Festival. It has also won 23 prizes to date.Bosta and Under the Bombs have both represented Lebanon at the Oscars.
For his third film, Philippe Aractingi bets on yet another type of writing: the autobiography. Heritages (2014) narrates the exile of his own family across four generations and a hundred years of history. As in the circus tradition, each member of the family, from the youngest to the eldest, embodies the role of an ancestor in addition to playing him or herself. The film effortlessly moves between archival images, reconstructed scenes and home videos, all the while dealing with often-difficult subjects of memory and transference with a smile.In a country where cinematic studies did not exist, Philippe Aractingi pictured and shaped himself as a director. Today, he continues to be an active advocate for Lebanese cinema. He is a founding member of the Fondation Liban Cinema (FLC), and the Vice President on the board of the Screen Institute Beirut.
Film after film, Philippe Aractingi is constantly searching for a new cinematographic form, which rests between fiction and reality, and is able to represent this region of the Middle East where chaos is always intertwined with order, and tragedy with joy.
23 awards among which:
Behind the Scenes
© 2014, Heritages the Movie
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