Monday, July 03, 2006

CITADEL - Less of a review than an advisery note

CITADEL is a sort of home-video shot by the acclaimed indie director Atom Egoyan. It documents his visit to Beirut, Lebanon - the city where his wife Arsinée Khanjian grew up. They return after 28 years and the intervening civil war, along with their ten-year old son, to visit family and see what has happened to the city. The resulting documentary is full of funny little asides about the family but also a lot of insight to the current political situation in Lebanon. For instance, as Egoyan walks down the main street in the Shi-ite west Beirut we see large posters dangling from the lamp-posts. Each one shows the face of a different "martyr"/suicide bomber. This prompts an interesting discussion about how muslims view photography within the panolpy of the arts - how far photographers are creating an image or just "capturing light". The documentary is by turns funny and by turns grim - but always fascinating and I would heartily recommend it for its content. However, I do have to add a sort of health warning. The movie is shot on a tiny little hand-held Mini DV camera. There is no professional lighting or formal "set-up". After all, the movie just started out, literally, as a home-video and was never really intended to bear the scrutiny of a theatre audience. As a result, the footage is really jumpy and if you, like me, suffer from motion sickness, it can be pretty hard to watch. Indeed, I came out with a terrible head-ache.

CITADEL is, as far as I can tell, being shown at the odd festival or arts cinema here and there. It's definitely one to look out for.

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