Terra Incognita (2002)

  • September 16, 2023 | 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM | Saturday
  • Oldham Theatre


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Year: 2002
Director: Ghassan Salhab
Runtime: 120 minutes
Country: Lebanon
Language: French, Arabic with English subtitles
Rating: M18


Cannes Film Festival 2002


Against the roar of construction and the whir of fighter jets overhead, five thirty-something-year-olds cross paths in a Beirut wrestling with the weight of ancient history and the trauma of the late 20th century.

Through the eyes of a tourist guide roaming the city’s ruins, a cynical mystic, an overworked architect, a radio newscaster, and a lovelorn recent returnee, director Ghassan Salhab captures the psyche of a generation who grew up amid the Lebanese War (1975–90), and who now face the lingering aftermath of the conflict following Israel’s withdrawal from South Lebanon in 2000.

Terra incognita moves in a poetic register – abstract monologues interrupt the film’s narrative logic, and conversations between characters cut alternately to melodies of a church choir, Islamic calls to prayer, and pop music. As the characters contemplate staying, leaving, and returning, the film unearths the ruins of the city, drawing a complex portrait of a land made unknown, unfamiliar through cycles of destruction and reconstruction.

This film is part of the programme Y2K Dreamz. The full programme for Y2K DreamZ can be found here.

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