Karim Kassem: Octopus

The IDFA website intro to this remarkable hybrid documentar-fiction goes like this: ”The aftermath of the explosion that took place at the Port of Beirut in August 2020 is revealed in quiet stillnes, from the destroyed buildings and the despair of local residents to the cautious first sounds of reconstructions.”

Thanks to the director for choosing a totally different approach to the catastrophy in Lebanon’s beautiful capital. It surprised me in the beginning as there was no talking, no dialogue, no facts concerning the human and material consequences BUT ”merely” an invitation to look and think, while watching superbly framed image compositions of faces and buildings and wounded apartments, with this little ”action” = the mark of an octopus on a piece of wood, a symbol of what… maybe adaptibility according to my encyclopaedia, life goes on, Beirut will survive but how; there is nobody home when the man knocks on doors in a spoilt appartment building but a lift takes the viewer to the top, to blue sky or blue sea… hope?… there is something mysterious about an octopus.

And there is something surrealistic in the atmosphere in the film that invites you to look at faces of people in Beirut, in shock maybe and/or reflecting on what Life can do to you…or. Still kids are playing in the streets.

A fascinating intelligent work! 

The film was shown at IDFA and won Best Film Award in the Envision Competition.

Lebanon, Qatar, United States, 2021, 64 mins.

www.idfa.nl

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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