Filmmaker confronts mother's killer in documentary

Tue Dec 15, 2009 8:29am EST
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By Andrew Hammond

DUBAI (Reuters Life!) - When De Gaulle Eid confronts his mother's killer on a quiet street in a village of north Lebanon, he finally achieves a closure of sorts for a trauma which has haunted him for nearly three decades.

"You don't remember me, but I remember you. How could someone not remember their mother's assassin. You killed my mother," the director says at the end of his arresting and deeply personal documentary "Chou Sar?" (What Happened?).

The man Eid addresses is lost for words as the camera lingers awkwardly on his face for what seems like an eternity.

Eid breaks down in tears as he stands in the now deserted house that was attacked by the gunmen of a rival family from a rival political party in December 1980. That was the night the 10-year-old Eid lost his parents and a sister, but managed to escape with another sister.

The film is the climax of a journey from Eid's current home on the French island of Corsica to the Lebanese village where 14 members of his family were massacred, and its dramatic effect was powerful for the audience at the Dubai International Film Festival where the documentary was unveiled on the weekend.

The filmmaker said his motive was to delve into the wounds of Lebanon's brutal 1975-90 civil war which he says remain raw despite a post-war amnesty over war-era atrocities, an abrupt coda suppressing discussion that for many leaves justice undone.

Other societies that experienced similar periods of communal violence adopted different approaches, such as South Africa's "truth commissions" after the apartheid system was dismantled.

"I tried to do what the government could not do," he said afterwards," Eid said. "It could have been Sarajevo or anywhere else. To me it's not a film about the Lebanese civil war but about how the government did not do anything to open the files."   Continued...