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Salhab is Lebanon's most prolific art house filmmaker, with an oeuvre that includes five fictions and a feature-length documentary.The film enjoyed its Lebanon debut at Ayam Beirut al-Cinemaiyya, and has now commenced its theatrical release in Beirut.Though the narrative of "Beyrouth Fantom" (1998) references Lebanon's 1975-90 Civil War and his lyrical doc "1958" is named after the civil conflict of that year, Salhab has avoided making films that are "about" this place.Neither has Salhab aspired to make the sort of easily accessible crowd-pleasing pictures that secure lucrative box office sales.Nearly as mysterious as their unknown benefactor, this group of former Beirutis can't figure out what to do with the unconscious figure they've inherited, so they take him back to the farmhouse where they live.As the film progresses, the amnesiac escorts the audience through the social and psychic lives of his hosts – who do not farm, it turns out, but are entrepreneurs of the informal economy."The Valley" is the second in a planned three-film series that commenced with "The Mountain" (2010).Salhab says the three films are related, but not in narrative terms.Salhab says he gave Abi Samra prominent roles in both films because of his presence.Viewers familiar with Salhab's previous work may be less likely to compare "The Valley" with "The Mountain" than with "The Last Man".Both films feature the work of Carlos Chahine, and the actor's embodiment of confused silence plays a major role in the approachability of both films.Ghassan Salhab's "The Valley" is up at Metropolis Cinema-Sofil.
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