A Lost Heart and Other Dreams of Beirut

Un cœur perdu et autres rêves de Beyrouth

FRANCE / 2023 / Arabic / Color / Digital File / 36 min

- Director, Script: Maya Abdul-Malak
Photography: Claire Mathon
Editing: Adrien Faucheux
Sound: Tatiana El Dahdah, Josefina Rodriguez, Emmanuel Crosset
Producer: Anne-Catherine Witt
Production Company, World Sales: Macalube Films

Faint voices speak phantom-like of those lost. A dream in which a father struggles with the loss of his son; the end of a prophetic dream told by a grandmother now deceased; a nightmare in which one’s body is shattered before one’s eyes. As if speaking to those suddenly taken away, as if telling the story to oneself, each person’s experience of loss appears, disappears, and reappears at random in the Beirut cityscape. The wellmaintained coastal streets, the deserted alleys where the walls are ready to crumble, the murals along which the faces of the departed extend. The hushed silence of this town is the longing for those departed that permeates the daily lives of the people who live here. (WM)

[Director’s Statement] This film is an intimate exploration of Beirut today, through the dreams of three inhabitants of the city.

I collected dreams from different people of Beirut during two years. Then, based on this documentary material, I imagined three characters and wrote down their dreams. I wanted the dreams to appear off-screen in the film, in sequences shot on location. The filmed sequences act as reverse shots—echos of these dreams. If the dreams we hear are not those of the people filmed, I wanted to maintain an ambiguity: these dreams could be theirs. The dreams we hear and the people filmed resonate with one another, so as to draw a collective story, inhabited by loss, by the war and its martyrs, by the economic and political crisis and by the deadly port explosion of August 4th, 2020.

I hope to transmit to the audience one truth about Beirut, in a simple, concrete and intimate manner. I hope to share the emotion I feel while observing the paradox of this city, surrounded by death and yet very much alive, both luminous and devastated. A ghost town, that now exists only as a dream.

- Maya Abdul-Malak

Born in Beirut, a Franco-Lebanese director. She earned honors in Modern Literature and worked as script supervisor on fiction features while co-writing several documentaries in Lebanon and France. Her first documentary, In the Land that Is Like You (2010), obtained the Persona Prize and CNC Quality Prize in 2010. Her second film, Standing Men (2015), was selected by several festivals, and was awarded the Ogawa Shinsuke Prize at YIDFF 2015. This, her third film, received a special mention at Cinéma du Réel 2023.