2007-03-26 21H30 Beirut


I should now briefly give a summary of were thing stands at this time concerning the rationale of our/my presence here in Lebanon to present this piece about last summer war.1- We should not forget that initially it was a movement of the heart, a visceral reaction to what was being done to the Lebanese people at the time.
2- There is something ethical about coming in Lebanon to present this piece here before traveling it around the world. Otherwise, it would be too easy to comment on this war from the distance. I am hoping that showing it first to the people who suffered through it will give more weight and more seriousness to our work. It is a way of committing ourselves in a deeper way.
3- During and at the outset of this war, there was a feeling, at least for us as seen from our distant countries, that a sense of national unity, beyond sectarian divides, emerged fugitively within the Lebanese people. We would be happy and feel that we are doing something positive if we succeed to share this feeling.
I have to write this because something happened this afternoon that has to do with this whole question of what exactly we are doing here and why. Today was my first day of master class with a group of 12 students at St-Joseph University. They are a wonderful group, very committed, very eager to learn, eyes and ears wide open. My plan today was to give them an overall view of my work indicating the different aspects I would address later on. My presentation was organized around the screening of a certain number of films that were important to me (Blinkity Blank, Op Hop, Mothlight, Souvenirs de guerre et La statue de Giordano Bruno). When we got to Souvenir de guerre, I realized during the projection how meaningful it probably was for them to see this and in a different way than for any spectator in Canada. The first sound of the film is a radio news bulletin about the invasion of Lebanon by the Israeli army in 1982, and it goes on later with tv archives of street fighting in Lebanon, and then the Irak-Iran war. When it was over, I felt they were very affected by the film and it was clear that I had to say something. I told them that I felt very touched of seeing the film with them, with unexpected intensity. I explained that I had done the film from the point of view of a country where we did not have war for century and where war was something in distant lands that we could only watch on television and suddenly I found myself on the other side of the images with persons in a country were war had been happening over and over since then, until last summer. One of the girls said: «We were born in the years when you made your film and this is still happening»
This was a very strong moment, obviously related to the questions Bob had been raising to me about our presence in Lebanon with that piece. I made very obvious to me that I would have to say something to the audience about this before doing the piece.

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