Catch an open-air movie on St. Nicholas steps

People gather on St. Nicholas stairs during last year’s Cabriolet Film Festival.

BEIRUT: The Cabriolet Film Festival was founded in 2009 to provide a free platform for short films from Lebanese and international filmmakers. Organized by Laboratoire D’Art and located on Gemmayzeh’s St. Nicholas Stairs – linking Gouraud and Sursock streets – each year’s event’s selection has a theme.

Last year Cabriolet’s topic was “Beyond Borders,” and the selection – which included such shorts as “Would Jesus Discriminate?” by U.S. filmmaker Jonathon D. Quam and “To Baalbek,” by aspiring Lebanese filmmaker Samir Syriani – reflected an interest in bridging religious, psychological and gender boundaries.

The theme of this year’s program of open-air screenings, scheduled for May 24-26, is “Change” and features works from around the world, including the U.K., Russia, Lebanon, UAE, Spain and Iraq.

On day one, film aficionados can watch the 18-minute “Apocryphal,” by Cuban music video director Ernesto Fundora. Fundora’s short is a detailed and skillfully rendered portrait of a protagonist, capturing him as he awakes from a nightmare, then following him as he goes about his daily chores.

Screened at the 2013 European Independent Film Festival (ECU), Russian filmmaker Ainur Askarov’s 16-minute “We Are Not Slaves” depicts a young boy being bullied during World War II in Leningrad.

For those who like more fantastical stories, Argentina’s Juan Pablo Zaramella’s 6-minute “Luminaris” promises to transport viewers to a surreal realm where the characters are controlled by light. The feature combines several influences, including tango.

Elham Abi Rached’s “Leftovers,” which also screened at the 2013 ECU, is based on a true story. It centers on 65-year-old Samir, who realizes that the country’s Civil War changed his view of life and reminisces on the moments spent with his family.

“Return of the Sun,” part of day two’s program, is a documentary by Glen Milner that focuses on the Inuit people of Greenland and their celebration of the first dawn after 40 days of polar darkness.

Screened at the LAU Student Film Festival, Ali Zein’s “Not Quite a Virgin” depicts the extreme behavior that can be inspired in young girls, thanks to the influence of a patriarchal society.

On Cabriolet’s final day, people will have the chance to see “The Man with Red and Yellow Guns” by Omar Rahbani, a talented musician who also studied photography and cinematography and is the son of author and composer Ghady Rahbani.

A two-time prize winner at the 2012 Gulf Film Festival’s student category, the 17-minute short “Strangers,” by Iraqi director Hashem al-Efari will also be screened.

Set in the beautiful English countryside, “Not a Peep!” by the U.K.’s Nicholas Abrahams, tells the story of a man who has lost his way and finds a fox. The short stars Irish actor Aidan Gillen, who appears in such movies as “The Dark Knight Rises” and the “Game of Thrones” series.

The Cabriolet Film Festival promises to screen a diverse range of short films, all to be presented in a relaxed, and free, open-air venue.

The Cabriolet Film Festival is on Gemmayzeh’s St. Nicholas Stairs May 24-26. For more information, please call 01-322-744 / 03-932-360.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 23, 2013, on page 16.




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