In 1999, while South Lebanon was still occupied and no images of the detention camp in Khiam were available, Hadjithomas and Joreige met six recently freed prisoners to discuss their experience of detention, the relation they developed to art, in order to question the modes of representation. In May 2000, the camp of Khiam was liberated and turned into a museum. During the July 2006 war, the camp was totally destroyed. There was some talk of rebuilding it exactly as it was. Eight years later, Hadjithomas and Joreige met again with the same six prisoners to talk through the liberation and subsequent destruction of the camp. What are the roles of memory, history, reconstitution, imagination and the power of the image?
Joana Hadjithomas Khalil Joreige
(Beirut, Lebanon, 1969) directed films presented and awarded at various international film festivals. Their works have been exhibited in galleries and museums. With the latest feature Memory Box (2021) they participated in competition at the Berlinale, while with their debut film A Perfect Day (2005) they won the Fipresci award in Locarno and with the subsequent Je veux voir (2008) they participated at the Certain Regard section in Cannes. Their documentary The Lebanese Rocket Society: The Strange Tale of The Lebanese Space Race (2012) won first prize at the Doha Tribeca Festival. Several retrospectives of their films have been presented in institutions such as Cinematek in Brussels, the Lincoln Center, the MoMA and the Flaherty Seminar in New York, the Tate Modern in London, Paris Cinéma, the Institut Français and the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, the Harvard Film Archive, the Locarno, Nyon and Gijon festivals, while in 2017 their installation On Unconformities was awarded the prestigious Marcel Duchamp Prize. Their artworks are part of major private and public collections including British Museum, Center Pompidou, Fond national d'art contemporain, MCA Chicago, Solomon R. Guggenheim and Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Hadjithomas and Joreige are the authors of numerous publications namely The Rumors of The World: Rethinking Trust in the Age of the Internet (2015) e Two Suns in a Sunset (2016). They are often invited as university lecturers in Lebanon and Europe. Both artists are co-founders of the production company Abbout Productions with Georges Schoucair, as well as executive members of Metropolis Art Cinema and the Cinemathèque in Beirut.
Al Bayt al Zaher (Around the Pink House, doc, 1999), Khiam (doc, mm, 2000), Barmeh (Rounds, cm, 2001), Al Film Al Mafkoud (The Lost Film, doc, mm, 2003), Ramad (Ashes, cm, 2003), Yawmoun akhar (A Perfect Day, 2005), Open the Door, Please (ep. del film Enfances, cm, 2006), Khiam 2000-2007 (doc, 2008), Je veux voir (2008), The Lebanese Rocket Society, The Strange Tale of the Lebanese Space Race (doc, 2012), Ismyrna (doc, mm, 2016), Memory Box (2021).
“This document was filmed with a sense of urgency, as intimate testimonies just before the camp was dismantled in Mai 2000. Rather than a political condemnation, it attempts a metaphysical reflection on man’s willpower and wish to live. It is also a work on representation and its limits, on evocation, on being confronted to an experience which can hardly be shared, camp life and detention. After the total destruction of the camp, we felt the need to meet again the former detainees we had filmed in 1999, to think together about the event and, especially, about the idea of rebuilding the camp.”