Sun 9 July 2017, 6.30pm
Dir. Vatche Boulghourjian
Lebanon, 2016 (105 mins)
Tickets £8.40 – £10.50
10% off 2 screenings
15% off 3 or more screenings
for Shubbak films at the Barbican
Things begin to unravel unexpectedly when young blind musician Rabih applies for a passport to go on tour with his choir – doubt is cast on whether his documents are real, setting into motion a quest for his true identity.
As past and present collide for Rabih, Boulghourjian subtly reflects Lebanon’s confused history – its 15-year civil war, which stretched from the mid-70s till the early 90s, leaving in its wake a legacy of mass displacements, unexplained disappearances and silenced stories. Rabih’s mother is unable to give him answers, whilst his uncle, once a celebrated general, disappears as Rabih’s questions multiply. As he sets out for villages across Lebanon in search of the truth, we begin to understand the sheer magnitude of the layers of collective silence that permeate the country’s recent past.
In his first acting role, real-life musician Barakat Jabbour’s portrayal of Rabih’s drive and persistence is deeply moving, and his musical performances are magnetic and defiant. Boulghourjian’s poetic and sensitive debut, which premiered in Cannes’ Critics’ Week, is also a poignant reminder of the role of culture and storytelling in relaying truths and understanding the amnesia that surrounds complex histories – histories conveyed through Rabih’s voice and songs, which make up the film’s mesmerising score.
“One of the inspirations of this film is theologian Professor John Hull… He lost his sight and wrote about what it’s like to be blind… In one paper he talks about how blindness is commonly misused in literature to describe how someone is morally misled or in denial… [Here] we have a blind man who has more clarity of mind and a goal to search for a truth. Even though he has a physical handicap, those around him have a spiritual handicap.”
Tramontane is Lebanese director Vatche Boulghourjian’s first feature; it is being screened at Shubbak as a UK Preview.
Shubbak’s film programme is presented in partnership with the Arab Fund for Art and Culture – AFAC and the Barbican, with additional support from Al Mawred Al Thaqafy, British Council and Molinare.