Tuesday, March 5, 2024 at 7:30pm
Two Films by Jocelyne Saab

361 Stagg Street, Suite 407, Brooklyn

Introduced by Kaleem Hawa

Rejection Front, Jocelyne Saab, 1975, digital projection, 7 mins
Lebanon in a Whirlwind, Jocelyne Saab, 1975, digital projection, 75 mins

Excerpted from a forthcoming essay:

There is no Lebanese nation, they say to her; it is 1975 Lebanon, the southern border with the Zionist state is a sieve of frontier violence; monopolistic capital is running roughshod over Saida’s fishermen’s unions; former political prisoners are organizing against the felling of berry trees in Tripoli; the tobacco harvests of the south remain an exercise in back-breaking exploitation; the Palestinian camps seethe under the thumb of the criminal peace; a belt of misery surrounds Beirut, with hundreds of thousands of dispossessed forced to watch the shiny cars driving technocrats and Christian fascists to their tennis matches. These were among the conditions that would catalyze a working-class revolution, the perambulatory gusts of the wars that would consume the country for three decades.

Jocelyne Saab commits this all to film in her documentary Lebanon in a Whirlwind, which travels across land, speaking to laborers, political leaders, and students. Through interviews and footage of daily life, Saab analyzes the institutions of the Lebanese left and Palestinian resistance as they grow into a popular front against the state, which called for the dismantling of Lebanon’s bourgeois-representative system and a recommitment to anti-colonial struggle against Zionism, Western imperialism, and Arab reaction. In a trim seventy-five minutes, Saab captures the revanchism of class power against people organizing for their survival, which at this particular conjuncture took the name of the “two-year war” (harb as-sanatayn).

Saab was twenty-seven years old then, already consumed by the stories of precipice and catastrophe across the Arab world, which had become her filmic project. That same year, Saab made Rejection Front, an unsparing documentary short filmed in the tunnels of an underground training camp for Palestinian militants fighting against the conciliatory policies of the then-PLO leader Yasser Arafat. In it, Saab interviews Nayef Hawatmeh, of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) and Ahmed Jibril, of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP–GC).

In the early draft of her shooting scripts, Saab recorded the words of one of her Phalangist subjects: “Me, personally, I have never handled a weapon, let alone felt the need to buy one or use one. And yet today, I am armed. Armed like the rest of the world.” The question for what haunts the country. Today, as the Zionist and Western imperial powers resume their bombing of Lebanon and the south, as they accelerate their genocide of the Palestinian people, there is one answer. But there are others too, tucked into the folds of a geography of struggle and refusal.

- KH

Tickets - Pay what you can ($10 suggested donation), available at door.

Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 7pm. No entry 10 minutes after start of show.