Taste of Cement
- *Best Feature Film* - Visions du Réel
- *Special Mention* – Valetta Film Festival
- *Best Feature Documentary* – Mediterranean Film Festival
- Sarajevo International Film Festival
- Open City Documentary Festival
- Nominated for Best Documentary / European Academy Awards
"An arresting meditation on construction and destruction... Taste of Cement shows how the affects of war can be felt in the very fabric of the places we build and inhabit." - Hollywood Reporter
"Fiercely lyrical in its approach, potent and unavoidable in its message, this documentary looks at the plight of Syrian migrant workers by weaving the construction of a tower block in Beirut with the destruction of lives back home. It’s an accomplished, thought-provoking piece which elegantly threads together images that mirror and echo each other, and finds harmonies between sound design and score." - Screen International
This intimate essay film reflects on the grueling Syrian Civil War as perceived by migrant Syrian construction workers in Beirut, Lebanon. These refugees have recently escaped the atrocities of war, only to find themselves as captive workers rebuilding a foreign city still recovering from decades of war itself. At the same time, buildings in their Syrian homeland are being shelled to rubble in a seemingly endless calamity.
Locked in the building site, the Syrian construction workers climb out of a hole every morning from where they sleep to a day of work building a skyscraper. The war in Lebanon is over but the one in Syria still rages on. Their work may keep them occupied, but it remains hard for them not to focus on the destruction back home. At night, prevented by a curfew from leaving the building site after 7 p.m., they gather around a small TV set to get the latest news from Syria. Otherwise virtually cut off from their homeland, they are mostly left to their fears, thoughts, and each other. They wonder when, if ever, they might return to rebuild their own country. They wonder if there will be much of a country left for them to rebuild. Tormented by anxiety and an abyss of meaning, and suffering a deprivation of rights in their current situation, they continue to hope for a different life, despite their everyday reality.
This profound, cinematic documentary revolves around a simple premise, that construction acutely juxtaposed with destruction is ever so telling of the tragic toll of war -- the social, psychological, cultural and physical structures that it destroys which may or may not be able to be rebuilt. The solemn spirit of the survivors seems the only source of hope that, one day, the rebuilding will come.
85 minutes, in Arabic with English subtitles.