Lebanon News

With new video, Phoenicia shows its constant changes

BEIRUT: Captivating audiences once again, the Phoenicia Hotel has launched a new video campaign to showcase the vast realm of possibilities that can happen at this iconic hotel.

“Transitions,” from filmmaker Charbel Bouez, features rising Lebanese dancers Yousra Mohsen and Anthony Nakhle plying their versatile trade throughout the hotel, from classical ballet to more freestyle movements.

“To enter the Phoenicia is to transition from the bustle of the city to an oasis of calm. A place where from day to night and from floor to floor, the mood surrounding each and every one of us is ever changing,” explains Tracey Bolton, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing.

“The film explores the endless possibilities of change that one can experience in the Phoenicia space, whether a variant in emotions or state of mind,” Bolton adds.

The video plays with the multitude of meanings of the word “transition.” As the video begins, Mohsen is seen having a flashback of practicing ballet at a studio bar as slow piano music plays. But then the video quickly transitions into a faster, more dubstep-style beat, and Mohsen and Nakhle dance through hotel rooms, in elevators, on a bar.

The idea, Bouez said, is that outside the hotel, Mohsen also feels outside her element, but when she enters the hotel “she gets back to her natural habitat and finds a way to remain true to herself.”

The campaign is Bouez’s first dance video, and he told The Daily Star that he had been fascinated by filming it.

“It creates an emotional connection. I think that in dance and music there’s something extremely powerful, and the film starts quiet and in one instance turns into madness, capturing people’s emotions immediately - of course thanks to the talented Anthony, who supported in this daring choreography.”

In a way, the versatility and creativity the video strives for mirror the hotel’s history. Bolton said that the Phoenicia, “now 58 years old, has listened to what today’s generation is looking for. We are a traditional hotel, always proud of our roots, but we have we have stood the passage of time, been rebuilt twice and constantly strive to evolve and to dare.”

Bouez explained that with the Phoenicia, “there’s always an ongoing brainstorming of what our next project will be, each time something more powerful, more cutting-edge.”

The Phoenicia “is not a stranger to [arts and] culture - always on the lookout for creative projects, the hotel has always been a supporter of art and young Lebanese talents and dedicates the space needed to give the opportunity for those talented artists” Tracey adds.

As Bouez remembered the filming process, his eyes lit up - 14 hours straight, which he defines as “intense and hectic” because of the busy schedules of the dancers. “I love filming in the Phoenicia because there are no boundaries for creativity. We just let the dancers do the thing they love most and feel free and at home.”

On this film, the whole production team is Lebanese, including the music composer, Karim Kheneisser.

“We had filmed with a different music as a base and didn’t finalize the music until the editing process; our issue was that we couldn’t find a composer to create dubstep music, which we needed to express all the energy in this film, but then I found Karim, who composed the perfect tune to fit the movie,” Bouez said.

To keep pushing forward, the Phoenicia team and Bouez are already thinking of a future project, even more ambitious than the previous one. “To do another movie that goes even further, we’ll have to change our approach, radically and that’s the challenge,” Bouez said.

“I think this space is very important for Beirut. The Phoenicia is a very original place and above all a space of expression. To have an institution with such a drive to give so many opportunities to talents in all spheres is a chance for Beirut and Lebanon,” he added.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 21, 2019, on page 3.

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