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Essential Cinema



31 January 2024

Essential Cinema

The 19th Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival will open with Ghassan Salhab’s newly restored debut feature film Phantom Beirut (Lebanon, France, 1989) from the Essential Cinema strand. Phantom Beirut is an extraordinarily articulate film on how the most brutal of power politics impact the psyche and inter-relations of people living through them.

We will present a new restoration of A Stolen Meeting (Estonia, 1989), the seventh and final feature of Leida Laius (1923-1996), one of Estonia’s most distinctive directors, whose films frequently depicted the fate of women and children in the late Soviet era. A Stolen Meeting tackles many themes that still resonate today: home, migration, rootlessness and motherhood.

Heiny Srour’s often censored and newly restored work The Hour of Liberation Has Arrived (Oman, 1974) is the only film to document a radical historic moment where the Popular Front for the Liberation of Oman and the Arabian Gulf (al-Jabhah al-Sha’abiyah li-Tahrir ‘Uman wa-al-Khalij al-‘Arabi, PFLOAG) momentarily created a secular, feminist and equalitarian society in Dhofar, Oman.

Bedwin Hacker (France, Tunisia, 2003), directed by Nadia El Fani is the director’s first foray into fiction. Brimming with revolutionary potential, the film is keenly critical of the security apparatus of the French state and how this is used to target immigrant communities.

We have added the World Festival Premiere of Isao Fujisawa’s Bye Bye Love (Japan, 1974) to the Essential Cinema strand. Channeling the avante-garde of the American New Wave in a dazzling universe of psychedelic poetics, a pair of star crossed platonic lovers take flight from society in Fujisawa’s surrealist road trip through 70s Japan.