Under the Bombs
This heartfelt road movie from Lebanese writer-director Philippe Aractingi was filmed during Israel’s 33-day bombardment of Lebanon in the summer of 2006. It follows a wealthy Shiite woman Zeina (Nada Abou Farhat) and a Christian taxi driver Tony (Georges Khabbaz), who are travelling from Beirut to the devastated south of the country, in search of Zeina’s young son Karim and her sister. And Tony, it transpires, is struggling with his own troubled family history: his brother remains in exile having joined the South Lebanese Army in an earlier war.
Abou Farhat and Khabbaz are the only professional actors in Under the Bombs. All the supporting characters - be they refugees, soldiers, nuns, foreign journalists, Hezbollah supporters or aid workers - play versions of themselves. Together with the TV news footage that’s woven into the story, this casting gives the film a powerful authenticity. Aractingi steers clear of political sermonizing and concentrates on showing the impact of war upon a society’s infrastructure and its civilian population. As one character laments: ‘Houses can be rebuilt, but what about lost souls?’ The film’s credits are dedicated to ‘the suffering of the innocent’, and the ending to Zeina’s quest is appropriately wrenching.
GFT, Glasgow from Mon 19–Thu 22 May; Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 30 May–Mon 2 Jun.