Ely Dagher’s Thoughts on Lebanon and Expatriation at Cannes Film Festival in France

July 14, 2021
Ely Dagher’s Thoughts on Lebanon and Expatriation at Cannes Film Festival in France Ely Dagher’s Thoughts on Lebanon and Expatriation at Cannes Film Festival in France

What Lebanon has been experiencing for ages now has left most Lebanese with unclear thinking building a gradual detachment within them. These complicated feelings lead many Lebanese people to leave the country, whereas the rest feel alienated while still living in Lebanon. However, these events provided a fertile ground for creative works of art, the latest of which is The Sea Ahead by Ely Dagher that competes at this year’s prestigious Cannes Film Festival.

Landing its world premiere at Cannes Film Festival, The Sea Ahead competes for the Caméra d'Or award, within theDirectors' Fortnight section. The film is slated to have four screenings, two of which will take place on Tuesday, July 13, at 11:30 AM and 5:30 PM, at La Croisette. Furthermore, the film will have the other two screenings on Wednesday, July 14, at 9:00 AM at La Salle Alexandre III, and at 3:00 PM at Le Studio 13.

Although The Sea Ahead is his feature debut, Ely Dagher’s repertoire includes a huge achievement, where he has won the Palm d’Or award for best short film at Cannes Film Festival six years ago, even before his 30’s, marking the first Arab director to receive such an award.

Ely’s philosophy is reflected in his works. He did a thesis focusing on the correlation between history, memory, and the archive in the construction of identity when he was studying at an art school in London. This was later applied byEly in his works, where he described his work to be exploring the correlation and possibilities created through the play between cultures, histories, and fiction. In addition, he works with different mediums and producing work that intertwines on different levels.

The concept of alienation tends to predominant the works of Ely Dagher. In his film Waves 98, Ely told the story of Omar, the school student who lives in the suburbs of Beirut and suffers from his social environment. While The Sea Ahead, on the other hand, tells the story of a young woman, who suddenly returns to Beirut after a long time, to find herself reconnecting with the familiar yet strange life she had once left. The sense of alienation that Ely Dagher is tackling here is not a result of migration, where 70% of the Lebanese live outside the country. However, he meant to address the social alienation; for the Lebanese to feel detached from the values, standards, practices, and social relationships within their society.

Beirut- based Ely Dagher graduated with an MA in Contemporary Art Studies and New media from Goldsmiths College in London. His debut feature The Sea Ahead competes for the Caméra d'Or award, within The Directors' Fortnight section.

The Sea Aheadmarks Ely Dagher’s debut feature and starsManal Issa, Yara Abou Haidar, Rabih El Zaher and Roger Azar.

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