Monday, July 30, 2012

LFF2012 - Interview Hernán Belón


Hernán Belón - Director of "Beirut Buenos Aires Beirut"
What inspired you to make this movie?

My dear friend Grace, the producer of the movie, told me her story and I felt really moved. I like very much stories about life, human conditions, families and trips. I did several documentaries about these matters. I was specially enthusiastic in this case because it is also an adventure movie.

Why now?

The Arabic world is opening to Occident. We would like to know more about you and maybe you want to know more about us. I think it’s a very good moment to meet and go to cinema.

 What was your first impression when you first set foot in Beirut?

Normally you can learn a lot about life doing documentaries. But in this case, it was amazing. I didn't know anything about Middle East two years ago. Beirut is an incredible place, beautiful, and maybe a little bit vertiginous. We were in a bar with an anti bomb camouflage! It was amazing! And at the same time, you can feel safe because the people are very nice. I don’t know. I hope the Lebanese can stay together, living in peace. 

 A part of the movie was filmed in dangerous places in Lebanon, what were the difficulties you had to overcome?

We were in the south of the Lebanon. There you need the permission from the Lebanese secret service, the army and of Hezbollah authorities. It was not easy to get all the stuff. But when we were there we felt that the people were very nice, they are people like you and me that are suffering, because of stupid reasons. War must come to an end.

Being part of this year’s program, what does it represent to you?

For our movie it is an amazing opportunity to be in the selection. I’m really happy, because we can reach another audience. In addition, it’s a great opportunity for the protagonist to show the movie in order to do a stronger bridge with them.
What are your future projects?

I’m preparing my second feature film “Blood in the mouth”, a love story and also developing another script - the story of Grace’s family but as a ficiton movie. The idea is to shoot it in Lebanon and Argentina in 2014.


Grace is a Lebanese woman living in Buenos Aires. One day her great aunt tells her a secret: Mohammed, her father, Grace’s great grandfather, did not die in Argentina, but returned to Lebanon, his home country, leaving behind the family he had formed here. She says that she and her brothers, angry with his departure, cut off all communication with him, but that she believes there is another family, far away from them, which they have never contacted. She hands her in a box with family pictures and letters written in Arabic that the man sent from Lebanon and nobody ever read.
Sometime later the great aunt dies. Upset, Grace decides to look into Mohammed’s life. From his letters and her grandmother’s testimony

(Mohammed’s other daughter), she begins to reconstruct his life, his arrival in Buenos Aires, his life in Argentina as an immigrant, and finally his return to Lebanon.

Grace finally travels to Cafarquela and meets Mohammed´s Lebanese family. She learns details of Mohammed’s life there. The two families, separated by thousands of kilometers and fifty years of silence, manage to re-establish the lost bond.

Interview by Reem Samarani

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