Outside the French Institute in the French Embassy in Beirut, the viewers went out to the courtyard after an hour and a half, spent it, panting inside Zakaria Jaber’s film, inside this picture of that, and I am like them, perhaps I should start with myself this time. It was difficult to ask the director any questions to prepare for writing this article. A strong blow to my memory, I went out with everyone and sat watching myself and others, watching anxiety, everyone was tired, and me too. The first question I asked a friend I met there: “Have we really gone through all this?” Then I asked myself: Does surviving after going through it all mean surviving? After a revolution and assaults, then an epidemic, then an explosion, then a collapse, then I tell you from the bottom where the country reached, and we are with it, so have we really survived? And if any of us survived, who were they? Our friends we dropped off at the airport? Or our friends who committed suicide?
In the film, Zakaria bids farewell to his friends, one by one taking them to the airport. We’ve all done this at least three times over the last few years. I remember very well how I said goodbye to three of my close friends in one week, to Turkey, to France, and another to the Arab Emirates. I also remember how Karim ended his life in the same year. Therefore, I repeat my apologies, I will not leave this script because I entered this film like many who were in the theater. “A coffin pilot … we will travel or we will die,” Zakaria Jaber repeats it again in the last part of the film, then he apologizes for repeating it, and I say, perhaps someone should do that, but more than that.
The layers of cities’ history are revealed through their physical structure. In Beirut, the matter is different, there are not many buildings left to tell their story. Many were displaced, and others whose residents died, and others were built in their place thanks to the assistance provided by civil society associations after the city was bombed. Warning: anxiety cliché.
Jabir forces us to remember what we have not forgotten, yet we deny. This city, in which we watched the film in one of its halls, was blown up three years ago, and if there is time again to talk about that day, nothing can be said except that we are worried in Beirut, I mean we are still like that. The stones tell the stories of the cities, and when they are destroyed, someone has to tell the story of the people of this city. Years later, or perhaps tomorrow, in a new episode of the regime’s crimes, as we were all killed this time. Perhaps this film, which will be shown soon at the Shanghai International Festival, will take over and tell our story. It will be our archive if we pass, and our collective memory if we stand for another day.
Always, in our sessions with our friends from neighboring Arab countries, we engage in a discussion about “the luxury that the Lebanese live in here,” one of them said, “You see demonstrations talking about a lot of other things,” indicating that we live in “freedom” and “our system is more merciful than theirs.” “. The disguised life, the disguised freedom and the disguised security that the regime promotes are all failing. We all witnessed the events and scenes that were shown in the film, and we watched some of them on TV, but he collected them in one tape that causes fear and helplessness when watching it.--
Through the eye of its witness, Zakaria conveyed the experiences of its residents (Farah Darwish, Yahya Jaber Nour Hajjar and others). We live with the characters whose highs and lows the director documented in this city, and we feel connected with each of them and every detail, because it all seemed like a reflection of the image of an entire people in the mirror or on the screen. Zakaria conveyed our disappointments, old and young. He conveyed to us the feeling of the generation that lived through the civil war in the seventies, and then how it reacted to the disasters of recent years as well, and when they feel anxious, know that what happened calls for more than that. Every scene, we thought it was the last, then another phase or event begins, “Oh, that really happened”… “Is all this really happened?” This movie never ends, and it will keep repeating itself even after the giant screen is turned off, with one difference: “Blood.” Our bleeding in this city never ends.
The succession of shocks exceeds our ability to absorb after the manifestations of life cease. Many of us resorted to psychological treatment after the Beirut explosion, for example, as free treatment spread in the first period in civil society associations and centers, so that many of their names remained on waiting lists due to the stampede to receive treatment. We all want to forget. Some of us quickly learned to deal with the symptoms of trauma, and some of us have yet to respond.
Metin Basoglu, one of the founders of the School of Psychological Trauma Studies at King’s College London, believes that the response to psychological trauma is not limited to psychotherapy, but will require parallel efforts to interpret the traumatic event and help people absorb it through media channels, whether in publications, videos and children’s channels. TV channels, newspapers and the Internet. Perhaps this is what we miss, for one/all of them to confess to committing crimes. Basoglu says that the effects of collective trauma are not only psychological, but also affect the entire society. The collective memory shapes the individual memory that tears us as individuals and afflicts us as a social fabric.
Anxiety in Beirut depicts our faces that make up the features of the city. In anger, in revolution, in an epidemic, then in an explosion, in death, in loss, in collapse, in fear, and then after all this…Why am I not worried in Beirut?