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MIMERA FILMS

LOCATION

Berlin, Germany

CONTACT

Elektra, My Love

THE PLAYERS

DIAMOND ABU ABBOUD         FLAVIA BECHARA         LISA DEBS         MANAL ISSA         REINA JABBOUR

MEDIA

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DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT

Elektra, My Love (89 minutes, 2021) is my first feature after 29 shorts. Set in the moody, cavernous ruin of the Piccadilly Theater, Beirut’s extravagant art palace destroyed after the Lebanese Civil War, the film recounts three days in the life of five actresses. The women seek to revive the ghostly theater with an experimental production of Sophocles’ Elektra. In writing and directing the film, I wanted to show the austere fall of the people of Beirut after decades of war, within my own dream of the passage of the soul.

Theme. 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 art palace, symbolic of what is vanished in Lebanon.

Method. The film is unscripted. I worked with the actresses every morning on the story we wanted to tell that day and together we wrote the scenes. The actresses then wrote their own situations and dialogue. During the afternoon shoot, they would often improvise their confessions and fragmentary personal stories of love and cruelty, within the framework of the theater of classical antiquity and the films of Ingmar Bergman.

Diamond Abou Abboud (The Insult, Ziad Doueiri, 2017) plays multiple 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) undergo a similar recognition of autonomy in acting and acceptance of self.

The Piccadilly. The theater opened in 1966 as a major venue for concerts, plays, and operas. In 1970, the owners installed the largest cinema screen in the Middle East.I grew up in that cinema in a way. It was across from my house and my mother would allow me to leave the house only to go across the street to the cinema, because it was below ground and safe from bombing and snipers. By the age of 14 I have already watched many of the great international films. During the Israeli invasion of 1982, Yasser Arafat hid there for the same safety reasons I did as a child. The Piccadilly has become an emblem of the city of Beirut, once full of hope and brilliance, now broken and decaying.

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