The Sound of Footsteps on the PavementWaq’o akdamin aala hijarat al rassif
LEBANON / 2004 / Arabic, French, English / Color / Video / 52 min
Director, Script, Editing, Producer: Reine Mitri
Photography: Reine Mitri, Rami Sabbagh
Sound: Bissan Qumsieh
Source: Reine Mitri
Since 1969, the Modca Café on Hamra Street has been synonymous with Beirut. Now, after more than thirty years, it is being demolished. In the young people fighting helplessly to preserve this embodiment of the city’s memory, we see a longing for and a vicarious experience of ‘social activism’. The camera attempts to resist traditional video activism as it accompanies these young people. Moving into the fluorescent light of the newly built mass retailer, the identity of the city is superimposed onto the fate of the café. A bold documentary essay that attempts to awaken various collective memories.
[Director’s Statement] First, a story that is repeated every day in different countries: the disappearance of places that represent the city’s memory, replaced by new commercial centers.
Then, the images. The same images are thus repeated everywhere. Activists who are struggling for the conservation of their values, their spaces, their memory.
How to avoid making yet another documentary with the same repeated images? How to go beyond the stage of video activism?
For these images to lose their news quality, it was necessary to wait for one year after the events that accompanied and followed the closing of Modca Café.
The political aspect of this essay does not make it a didactic film, because next to the political there is a poetic feeling that emanates from the images, through an alternation of vibrant life and desertion, solidarity during the day and alienation at night, will and resignation, gravity and black humor. The result is an essay that contains nostalgia and inconsolable sadness, confronted with a feeling of loss and impotence.
Today, reconstruction / destruction means parting with the memory of the city and its people. It means marginalization and segregation.
Born 1970 in Lebanon, Reine Mitri has studied business management, worked on the production of documentary films, written film reviews and has been active as a cinema club programmer and film festival organizer. Since 2000, she has attended several workshops on documentary filmmaking, including the 2001 summer program at the French National Film School, La fémis (Paris) where she created her first documentary essay A propos de la poire. She currently works at La Fondation Liban Cinema and in the organizing committee of DocuDays—Beirut International Documentary Festival. Works include Querido (2003) which won the Hussam Ali prize for Best Arab Short Documentary awarded by the Egyptian Documentary Filmmakers Association.