Set in the ruins of Beirut’s Piccadilly Theater after the war, the film tells the story of five actresses entangled in a web of deceit, revenge, and murder.
Set in the desolate wreckage of Beirut’s Piccadilly Theater after decades of war, the film recounts three days in the life of a writer and actors. As they seek to revive the ghostly theater with a production of Sophocles’ Elektra, the actors witness the vivid dreams of the writer who has to confront the contempt and lies of the two-faced actors and ultimately her own murder.
Plot Summary of the play by Sophocles.
Set in the city of Argos around 410 BC, the play Elektra tells of a bitter struggle for justice by Elektra and her brother Orestes for the murder of their father Agamemnon by their mother Clytemnestra and their stepfather Aegisthus in the aftermath of the Trojan War.
Beirut is an idea founded on libido of power. It is based on the ideology not of desire for love, but of lust. The film shows the psychological toll the withered city has taken on its people. Beginning with themes of deception, justice, and revenge in Sophocles’ play, the characters in the film undergo a total breakdown, becoming ghostly themselves in the horrid theater, symbolic of what is vanished in Lebanon.
The film is an unscripted, discontinuous dream-narrative with abrupt changes to character, locations, and plot details told from the perspective of a writer. The filmmakers worked with the actresses every morning on the story they wanted to tell that day and together they wrote the scenes. The actresses then wrote some of their own situations and dialogue. During the afternoon shoot, they would often improvise their fragmentary personal stories of love and cruelty, within the framework of the theater of classical antiquity.
Diamond Abou Abboud is the protagonist writing the 6 chapters the film is composed of. In addition to the role of the writer, she plays multiple other characters: Clytemnestra, the guilty sister, the jealous lover, and herself, to discover in this method that she is not only fashioning something that “plays well,” but also she uncovers herself as a person and as an actress, confronting psychological traumas inflicted on her by a Beiruti society that on the surface claims cosmopolitanism, but in fact is oppressive. As in Sophocles’ play, delayed recognition intensifies Abou Abboud’s knowledge of herself. All four other actresses: Manal Issa (Elektra), Flavia Bechara (Orestes), Lisa Debs (Aegisthus), and Reina Jabbour (chorus) are various aspects of Diamond’s complex and rich character.
The Piccadilly Theater opened in Beirut in 1966 as a major venue for concerts, plays, and musicals. In 1970, the owners installed the largest cinema screen in the Middle East at the time. Because the theater was close to my house, underground, and safe from bombs and snipers, my mother thought it was fine for me as an adolescent to spend my days there watching movies. It was there that I fell in love with movies for the first time. During the 1982 Israeli invasion, Yasser Arafat sought refuge there for the same reasons I did as a child. The Piccadilly, now forgotten and in ruins, has come to represent Beirut, which was once full of hope and brilliance but is now decaying.
Arabic w/English subtitles; digital color, aspect ratio 3:2, frame rate of 26.6667 fps; stereo audio.
The Cast: Diamond Abou Aboud, Flavia Juska Bechara, Lisa Debs, Reina Jabbour, Manal Issa
Producers: Hisham Bizri & Mirna Shbaro
Director / Writer: Hisham Bizri
Director of Photography: Fouad Aoun
Assistant Camera / Gaffer: Samer Sardouk
Art Director: Ghina Sibaii
Editors: Hisham Bizri, Mirna Shbaro, Charbel Abi Semaan, Jad Dani Ali Hassan
E-Loader: Charbel Abi Semaan
Online Editor: Dikranouhi Kurkjian
Line Producer: Mirna Shbaro
Production Manager: Lara Abu Saifan
Sound Design: Raed Younan
Location Sound: Victor Bresse
Colorist: Chrystel Elias
Production Assistants: Yasmina Rizkallah & Saleh Suleiman
Soundtrack: Vincenzo Bellini, Al Bowly, Charlie Chaplin, Vangelis, Giuseppe Verdi, Franz Waxman
Graphics: Payman Khodabandhloo
Subtitles: Sara El Berjawi
Original Title, Year, Country of Production.
Elektra, 2023, Lebanon
Mimera Films | Hisham Bizri | Gipsstrasse 15, Suite 7, 10119 Berlin, Germany | T: +49 (0) 15165036573 | E: [email protected]
Front Row Film Entertainment. Al Garhoud Building 3rd Floor, Suite 301. Al Garhoud P.O.Box: 49714. Dubai, United Arab Emirates; T: +971 4 286 56 44; E: Carine Chaiban: [email protected]