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When popular anti-regime demonstrations began in Tunis and Cairo in late 2010, some in Beirut were incredulous.Anyone with a nodding acquaintance of the region's history will realize what Teguia is up to from the film's opening sequence.Ibn Battuta was the pen name of Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta.In Beirut, Battuta looks up a historian named Jean-Pierre Khoury (an amused Fadi Abi Samra), the only contemporary academic who's written a history of the Zanj."Zanj Revolution" is among a handful of recent films that has taken up Beirut's militant history.Shot entirely or partially in Beirut, Baudelaire and Teguia's films are not propaganda movies supporting one now-irrelevant political party or another."Zanj" is a much more migratory film – appropriate given the protagonist's name is Ibn Battuta.The most sympathetic of these is Nahla (Diana Sabri), a Palestinian refugee whose parents knew Beirut in those bygone revolutionary days before relocating to Greece. For her part, Nahla wants to return to Beirut to contribute to her national cause – handing over a wad of euros to a Shatila politico before hooking up with Battuta.
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