Thirty-five years ago, I witnessed the event of someone I've known since, he was gone. Ten years ago, I saw his face in the street but I was not sure it was him. Part of his face was missing. however, something was different as it was not the same person. (Ghassan Halwani)
The image is a black and white photo of a courtyard. No-one’s there… but the traces on the ground and an abandoned hat suggest a confrontation. As for sound, director Ghassan Halwani shows a man a photo from which he has erased the protagonists, and asks him to describe what he sees. We never get to see the original photo, taken during Lebanon’s civil war in the mid-1980s, and the man tells us little about this invisible kidnapping. Despite the impossibility of words, the instruction to forget and the continual erasing of evidence by the authorities, Ghassan makes the war’s disappeared reappear. He meticulously scrapes the city’s walls to uncover the posters of missing people; he redraws their faces and tries to put a number on the bodies buried in the many mass graves that are still being discovered.
Lysa Heurtier Manzanares
Ghassan Halwani lives and works in Beirut. After the short-animated film "Jibraltar" (2005), he was mainly involved in collaborations with Lebanese and Arab filmmakers, playwrights, contemporary artists, publishers, and musicians. Among his contributions: a short animation film closing the feature documentary "Lebanese Rocket Society" by Khalil Joreige and Joanna Hadjithomas, a long contribution on several plays and installations with Lebanese Playwright and artist Rabih Mroué, Animated music video "Takhabot" with Palestinian Musician Tamer Abu Ghazaleh. "Erase, __Ascent of the Invisible" is his second film and first feature. Besides his artistic engagement, his work focuses on the public and political spheres. He is currently contributing to the creation of a national archive dedicated to enforced disappearances in Lebanon. In parallel, he is collaborating on research towards a film about the National Master Plan for the regulation of land and property in Lebanon.