Your Middle East had a quick chat with aspiring filmmaker Marie-Louise Elia who took us behind the scenes of her short feature Beirut Bel Aswad Wel Abiad (Beirut in Black and White).
The film is a complex declaration of love to Beirut and full of symbolism, could you please take our readers through the plot?
“Karim is looking for his fiancée - who abandoned him on their wedding day - in the neighborhoods of Beirut. Through his interior monologue, we discover the love/hate relationship he has with Beirut (and his fiancée) and his mixed feelings towards both of them. He is constantly distracted by his thoughts and eventually becomes wanted nationwide.”
It says in the end that it's a tribute to Woody Allen’s Manhattan and that it was inspired by ‘Beirut bel Aswad Wel Abiad.’ Tell us, why did you decide to make this film and how did the music inspire you?
“It was a university project last year: the theme was 'Beirut' and we had to pay tribute to a well-known film. My favorite director is Woody Allen and he was the perfect choice – New York is always present in his films.
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I wrote the script during a seminar. I had the basic storyline at first; a guy runs after his fiancée who abandons him in the streets of Beirut. I added the opening scene (inspired by Manhattan’s opening monologue), Manhattan’s visual style and an omnipresent voiceover.
So I was making a black and white film about Beirut and I said jokingly in class: there is a song called ‘Beirut Bel Aswad Wel Abiad’ (which means ‘Beirut in Black and White’ in Arabic). The teacher replied: ‘There you go! You have your inspiration, your soundtrack and your title, all you need to do now is write a script!’
That's what happened: I watched Manhattan’s opening scene over and over again in one single night, then I put Marcel Khalifeh's music on and started spilling every single thing I felt about Beirut.”
Is this your first short film? What will be your next project?
“This isn't my first film. I did a couple of short movies during my previous semesters at university, but this is the first one I uploaded on YouTube. I'm currently in my final year in ALBA, preparing my two diploma films, which I'll be shooting in April.”