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"Tramontane" ("Rabih"), the debut feature film of writer-director Vatche Boulghourjian, tells a story from contemporary Lebanon.The film centers on Rabih (Barakat Jabbour), a young man from a Lebanese mountain village who's been blind since infancy.As the film opens, Rabih's applying for his first passport.The village sheikh informs Rabih that the village was not attacked in 1988 (the year of his birth) and was never destroyed.The film is never more true than in the various tales its characters retail to narrate Rabih's origins.The film's establishing shot does capture a mountain landscape, but it's grainy and shaky.Central to the plot, the musical abilities of the film's lead are also compensatory. Jabbour is among several nonprofessional actors in Boulghourjian's cast and – unlike his uncle (in life and in the film) Toufic Barakat – he lacks the unselfconscious in-frame ease of a "natural actor". If the film manages to avoid being weighed down by emotions it conveys it is thanks, in no small part, to the film's minimalist score, penned by artist and composer Cynthia Zaven.
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