A scene from Myriam El Hajj’s 2015 doc “Trêve” (A Time to Rest), which is enjoying its Beirut premiere during Ecrans du Reel.
Photo courtesy of Metropolis
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One of these days, when some scribe decides to write a history of documentary cinema, it may note the influence of Joshua Oppenheimer. The scribe may be tempted to refer to "The Oppenheimer Effect," until, one hopes, an editor will recall that history already has an effective Oppenheimer, remembered by some as "the destroyer of worlds". "Treve" is basically a profile of the filmmaker's Uncle Riyad, an affable, big-bellied fellow who, with his wee pooch Mira, runs a gun shop in some undisclosed location in Lebanon.Here Uncle Riyad whiles away his evenings with a few pals he's known since he was a young man.Hajj takes this opportunity to step into the frame as her uncle shows her how to fire a shotgun.Uncle Riyad is always alone when his nicely framed form is captured on site. What's being punched out of these machines is never explicitly discussed but the implication is that he manufactures his own ammunition, possibly his own weapons. Fadi Kassem's photography makes good use of the hunters' exterior locations and – wedged beneath the cramped gun shop's wall-mounted television – makes the most of the interiors.Taken as a portrait of a man with blood on his hands, "Treve" offers a candid and nuanced representation of the filmmaker's uncle.
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