68th Berlinale – Bayna Hayakel Studio Baalbeck

In the Ruins of Baalbeck Studios

The story of this film project revolves around the biggest film production studio in the Arab world, and its lost archive. Located on Charles Helou Boulevard in the east of Beirut, the remains of Studio Baalbek, a white villa with open doors, broken windows, and a garden full of wild plants and pine trees, appear like a lifeless place. But even though the once thriving production house, established in 1962, fell victim to the Lebanese civil war (1975–1990), it has nevertheless left behind a treasure of an archive of voice recordings and films that still are famous throughout the entire Arab region, spanning productions from Erbil to Amman, and from Damascus to Cairo. Negligence by the Lebanese authorities has led to mold growing on parts of this archive inside the damp underground warehouses. Bayna Hayakel Studio Baalbeck shows the ruination of film heritage in Lebanon, navigated through the country’s cinematic heydays in the late 1960s and early 1970s – a period that witnessed a rise of Egyptian producers and directors moving to Lebanon to make films partly due to Nasser’s nationalization of Egyptian cinema.

by Siska

Lebanon / Germany 2017

Arabic, French, English

Documentary form 48 min · Colour