An Interview with Eliane Raheb (Director)
The Man Who Won’t Give Up
Q: Haykal, the film’s protagonist, devotedly juggles his restaurant and farm and has a deep love for his land. I think this is lovely and admirable. Where did you meet Haykal, and why did you decide to film him?
ER: I first met Haykal when a friend and I went hiking. They told me about him, and we actually visited the restaurant he runs. He lives alone in the middle of the mountains where it seems like a no man’s land, and from this image, I thought it would be perfect for a film. Haykal as a person is very charismatic. I felt that he was not simply a farmer, but someone who carries on the history of Lebanon, so I decided to film him.
Q: Haykal works extremely hard, yet if he were to pass away, nothing would be left behind. Regarding this point, what were you thinking while you were filming?
ER: I think this is the sad thing about this story, but I think of this film more positively. Haykal does whatever possible to make preparations so that his family, who left the home, can come back at any time. It is my thinking that Haykal’s children will watch this film and want to return home.
Q: Was your reason for making this film because you have hope for the future of Lebanon?
ER: When I make a film, it’s not about one specific place. It’s more about the issue. I believe what’s important is showing people the issues of a region through film and making them think critically. Rather than focus on one area, I want to try and raise my questions within the Middle East, because I think in some way we are all living the same reality. Although the story is set in Lebanon, I kept the situation of the Palestinians in mind. As is the case with Haykal, there are many people living in Palestine surrounded by various threats, yet they do not want to leave their motherland.
Q: Why is Haykal so intent on protecting the land there?
ER: First, I think it’s because Haykal has a natural sense of belonging to that land. It was Haykal and his father’s dream to remain in that place, and it was also Haykal’s dream to create something in that place. Moreover, Haykal is Christian, like many of the people in the region, but while other people are fleeing the region due to acts of terror, he alone is remaining on his land due to his strong resolve. This is something amazing.
Q: In that case, what do you think the difference is between Haykal and other Christians?
ER: The name “Haykal” in Arabic means “temple,” and as his name indicates, he has a strong conviction to be a temple of this area. His name gives him strength. On top of this, Haykal is a Christian. I think there is the aspect that he is fulfilling his promise to God. That you suffer for the good of someone for something better after.
(Compiled by Abenoki Tatsuya)
Interviewers: Abenoki Tatsuya, Masuya Shoko / Interpreter: Nakazawa Shino / Translator: Kat Simpson
Photography: Sakurai Hidenori / Video: Satsusa Takahiro / 2017-10-06