Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige

Barmeh, 2001 (Rounds) by Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, is a short film about the in-between state of the Lebanese society today. It takes place in a car that has been abstracted from its surroundings through over-exposure of the image, so only white light is seen through the car windows. As the car moves, stops or turns, the driver tells about his ideas and thoughts. The blurring of the city not seen through the car windows enables the viewer to focus on the protagonist and prevents any orientation in the space the car is driving through.
The protagonist’s internalisation of western values and glorification of technology – when he complains about the lack of order in the streets such as traffic lights and street signs – versus the protection of certain Lebanese values –, define the in-between state depicted in the film.
The person who shoots the film is silent and absent from the image, and in this way leaving the driver free to talk with no interruption or interrogation. The protagonist’s only meeting with the surroundings is an intersection of looks: the gaze of the protagonist intersecting with the gaze of a boy who approaches the car at one point. The boy’s appearance and behaviour make him appear as a street child that begs to survive. A tension is created by the prolongation of the two persons’ gazes at each other through the car window – a tension that increases as none of them act. The insistence coming from both sides ends with the boy’s departure. The short encounter with the outside resembles the engagement of the individual with society. The film ends with a bird eye’s view on the car, over which the filmmakers take their turn to comment on the current social state in Lebanon.

Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige have produced feature films and short films, postcard series, photography and video installations as well as texts for international magazines and publications. Their well-known feature film entitled A Perfect Day, 2005, has been screened in various film festivals such as Berlin, Toronto and Seattle.