“A Feeling Greater Than Love”.. Between Lebanon’s past and present

17. February 2017

One of the generally permanent roles of Cinema and Documentary Film, in particular, is connecting the past to the present. Searching through the past generations’ log books for tales not known to ordinary people, and straightly extending the lines of those tales to confirm what we all know, that humanity has recurring faces and that the suffering of humans shall continue across generations as long as its reasons remain.

This role clearly heads the goals of this documentary “A Feeling Greater Than Love” by the Lebanese director Mary Germanos Sapa, who tries to connect Lebanon’s past to is its present in her film, that is being screened in the section of “Form” forum, through recalling two tales that might seem limited in value, numerically. Two incidents of rebellion that occurred in the beginning of the seventies from a worker in a chocolate factory and tobacco farmers refusing the monopolization of capital, which led suppression by military forces resulting in the two deaths in each incident.

“Thousands died in Chile and in Indonesia.. What is so important about the death of two young men and a girl that you would make a film about it?”, the director asks herself that question among many phrases included in the film, as if Sapa is running an inner dialogue with herself to understand the dimensions of her film, and of course so the audience can also understand.

The importance is that the reasons of the workers and farmers’ rebellions in the beginning of the seventies are still present: Bad conditions, high cost of living, the sway of capital, and Communalism are still present in all Lebanese affairs. Despite civil wars and the hundreds of parties and movements, including the Communist Party, which in the film we see the poster of its eightieth anniversary in Lebanon, the bad conditions are still present; if not worse.

The director dedicates the larger extent of her film to the memories of the contributors in both incidents; including farmers, workers and Communist activists. This choice is not aided by the montage, which after the first thirty minutes falls into the trap of repetition. It goes back and forth between the same situations and ideas which slowed-down the second half of the film, except a few moments of implied satire of the Communist activists, who some of them were more dreamy than they should have been, while others were repulsively masculine to the point where a female regular member had to leave the movement because she found that while men are getting ready for war women are charged with preparing food.

These moments of insight and deep understanding of the rooted social problems which are even bigger than the monopolization of capital, is the most enjoyable thing from “A Feeling Greater Than Love”, in addition to the scenes connecting the past to the present by characters going back to their original place of rebellion or a vehicle roaming around with a microphone chanting the same call of revolution chanted more the forty years ago.

On the level of ideas, Mary Germanos Sapa’ film managed to break away from a single incident and connect it to the current Lebanese reality. But from film making perspective, it could have been more concise if the montage was handled better.

This blog post was originally published here and was republished with permission from Goethe-Institut.

Copyright: Text: Goethe-Institut Ägypten, Ahmed Shawky . This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution – Share Alike 3.0 Germany license.

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