Miguel’s War

- LEBANON, SPAIN, GERMANY / 2021 / Arabic, Spanish, English, French / Color / DCP / 128 min

Director, Script, Editing, Producer: Eliane Raheb
Photography: Bassem Fayad
Sound: Shadi Roukoz, Amanda Villavieja
Animation Director: Fadi El Samra
Animation Supervisor: Fdz
Music: Mazen Kerbaj
Sound Design: Victor Bresse
Art Director: Nader Moussally
Costumes: Anthony Chidiac
Assistant Director: Nadim Hobeika
Line Producers: Nermine Haddad, Marta Del Vigo
Production Company, Source: ITAR productions

A gay man from Lebanon who calls himself Miguel. He has yet to heal from dark memories of childhood concerning his family and the psychological trauma he suffered during the Lebanese Civil War. When the director tries to take a direct approach to speaking with him, Miguel always angrily dodges the questions. Behind all the lies, jokes, silence, and boisterous laughter lie deep, indescribable scars and the shadow of war that refuses to let itself be told. Employing a variety of techniques including detailed animation and theatrical reenactment, the film expresses the complex recesses of Miguel’s mind, layer after layer. A foray into new territory from the director of Those Who Remain (2016, YIDFF 2017).

[Director’s Statement] There are few opportunities in life where you can meet such an inspiring character as Miguel.

While hearing the details of his past, I realized that I had come across an exceptional human being with a unique story: Miguel’s story is a multi-layered and rich one that brings together the tragedy of a country trapped in sectarian conflict, the personal drama of a hyper-religious family, a need to prove virility due to the shame of being gay and an ongoing quest for pure love.

Meeting Miguel has inspired me to make a film that considers how the personal experience of family can be negatively impacted by overzealous religious convictions, fascism, political affiliations and rigid notions of sexual identity. And it seems for me that a hybrid documentary would be the best form, whereby narratives can be questioned, displayed, shattered and rebuilt to give new and multiple meanings to both our individual and collective sense of what it means to be in a state of war—be it mentally, physically or politically. In this sense, Miguel’s war could be any and every man’s and woman’s war.

The complexity of his character reflects the complexity of a life touched by trauma, and venturing into his story in cinematic form will be a way in which both he and I can confront and come to terms with existential questions raised by our life experiences.

In this film, we embark on this cathartic journey together, step by step and in a spirit of friendship, but also conflict and humor.

- Eliane Raheb

Eliane Raheb is a Lebanese female director. She directed several award-winning short films and documentaries. Her main achievements include the feature documentaries Sleepless Nights and Those Who Remain (2016, YIDFF 2017), the latter of which has been shown in more than sixty film festivals and won seven awards, including the Etoile de la Scam award. Her third feature documentary Miguel’s War has recently premiered at the Berlinale (Panorama) 2021 and won the Teddy Award for feature film as well as the second place Audience Award. She is also the founder of ITAR Productions, a company that has produced several documentaries awarded in festivals and aired on ARTE/ZDF, France 24, France 3, NHK, Al Jazeera documentary and Al Jadeed channels.