Arab Film Festival: MARTYR
First show: October 15
Hassane’s in his late 20s, still living at home with his parents and unemployed, similar to many young Lebanese men, struggling day-to-day looking for work amidst the country’s swelling population crisis. To blow off the steam, and get away from his parents’ non-stop demands, he meets his best friend Mohamed and they drive across town to the seaside corniche in Beirut’s Central District to catch up with friends, who, like them, are suffering from a similar malaise. Spending the day swimming and languishing in the sun watching divers jump from the balustrade to impress passersby, musing in repose over broken dreams, envy, and regret: the group fall into a lull of escapism to quell the pangs of real life, even if for a moment, where hopes of a better tomorrow can be entertained. But suddenly, and inexplicably on this sunny day: Hassane drowns, which triggers a series of events that shake his friend’s and family’s faith to its foundations, as he’s deemed a martyr, under Islamic tradition, which includes individuals who have died by drowning.
The story unfolds in tandem with an otherworldly, experimental engagement with the male body, specifically, here, the Arab male body (which has been subject to ubiquitous renderings of religious extremists and widowed fathers carrying their children through the rubble), in Lebanese writer/director Mazen Khaled’s Martyr (Shahid), where Arab men are shown in states of corporeal grace, their figures glowing in the afternoon haze, alive and transcendent, while the haptic intimacy between them moves from love’s embrace to the arms of death. Mixing traditional narrativity with visual abstraction, surreal dreamscape interludes, and performance art dance sequences, Khaled tests the boundaries of visuality to reveal the psychic space of a subculture of disenfranchised elder millennials who’ve been pushed to the brink by a social system that has altogether forgotten them, their only refuge: the sea. And each other.
Nominated for the Queer Lion at the 2017 Venice International Film Festival, supported by the Venice Biennale College Cinema, and screened in the official film section of South By Southwest’s 2018 festival.
Mazen Khaled was born in Beirut, Lebanon. After a period spent in policy analysis and research, he moved to advertising where he wrote and directed TV ads. He has studied and worked in Beirut, Washington DC, Dubai, and Montreal. Mazen’s work tends to focus on the human body, framing it aesthetically, but also placing it within the frameworks of spirituality, family, and society.
For more information, please visit the Arab Film Festival website.
Directed by Mazen Khaled. 84 min. DCP. Lebanon. 2017.
NOTE FILMS START RIGHT AT THE LISTED SHOWTIME. Roxie Theater trailers play during the 30 minutes prior to showtime.
Arab Film Festival: MARTYR: Upcoming Showtimes