"Ana Beirut" is a series of experimental poetic portraits created by 9 Lebanese audiovisual artists exploring themselves and the city they live in: Beirut
“Ana Beirut” is conceived and produced by Home of Cine-Jam within the intuitive film lab program conducted by Muriel Aboulrouss.
Ghina is an Arabic name that means singing or to sing, and I am a filmmaker. Two years ago, I decided to put aside my camera and be involved in manual labor as part of my discernment with the Little Sisters of Jesus. Two years that changed me, that taught me to be bold, human, minimal, and true to myself. Now as I come back to filmmaking, I can’t but feel the urge to be as authentic in filming, as I was when I let go of the camera. I wish through my work that I can deliver the blessing that I felt during these two years.
At first, I was afraid to be a part of this film lab, because I was afraid of competition, to be part of a closed group. I was afraid of my own feelings of jealousy. I am happy now that I did not listen to these voices and these doubts, that I followed my intuitive need to take a
chance on a new adventure; the “Cine-Jam film lab”. There is something very beautiful that we experienced. I can see now that every individual in this group was able to create a very honest and authentic film that reflects who they are. There was no way to compare our films or each other as we were required to simply be our unique selves. There is something Muriel was always saying during the film lab: “Be honest towards your emotions and listen to your intuition, why do you need to understand to be able to feel?”. I hold these words within me, to apply in Art, in my spiritual and mundane life as well. I understand now that our emotions guide us to ourselves. My film is ME and I am proud of it. I cannot watch it and doubt its value because when I look at it, I realize how much it represents me and that makes me so happy. The world needs more of that to create change. I am so grateful to have met everyone in this group, Sherine, Marie- Rose, Gilbert, Bachir, Valentina, Jean-Pierre. I was happy to see Aline and Amar who are my closest friends, in a different frame. I feel that I know them more now and I’m happy we went through this together. I also got to know Muriel on a closer level. I got to feel her soul, to witness her passion and faith in planting seeds in us.
Marie Rose Osta
Drifting through existence with curiosity. Sometimes the spaces lose their identities and become a decor for me to populate. As a unique child, fantasy was my game. As an adult, fantasy saved me from a lot of sadness. As I try to cope with what my country is going through since day one of my existence, the news started losing its realism, death became an act, and destroyed buildings look like huge designed cardboard. “Ana Beirut” presented an opportunity to discuss the feeling of being a watcher who is getting detached day after day from this city’s reality.
I can summarize my “Ana Beirut” experience by saying that it was a much-needed exchange between fellow artists who were all seeking catharsis from the cumulative darkness in which our country is falling. The jamming we had was that of parents adopting each other’s babies. Each of the films was delivered by the small community we managed to create. We poured feelings into the comments instead of the judgment of any kind, artistic or opinionated. I came out of this wave of positive and constructive lift-off both in art and in the personal sense, comforted with the certainty that intuitive emotions are the core of every true artistic declaration.
I am an explorer who travels between many paths, discovering new communities, new faces, and new streets. I am looking for several experiences through reflections and opportunities offered by life. Today, I am experiencing the “Ana Beirut” intuitive film lab by Home of Cine-Jam as a path by which I am searching for myself through creation.
The idea of belonging to a group of Filmmakers was the farthest thing from my mind! I was afraid of the commitment, of being put on the same level as others, of creating a film within a month, and with such a daunting subject: “Ana Beirut”. Aline, Ghina and I all said: it’ll be all of us or no one! I submitted. I submitted to be myself, I submitted to translate my feelings through visuals and audio, I submitted to be authentic and nothing else. It was tough, emotional, honest, true, and unpredictable. Our feelings were growing week after week, the images were clearer, the voices came up in a three-dimensional form, something that you couldn’t accept. In this film lab, I discovered a lot about myself. I met beautiful people who are part of my life now. With Muriel, I learned how to feel, not how to think, and how to follow our hearts, so we can create a film that reveals our souls. We are precious, we are unique, we try to make a difference with art. I love my film, I love what I have gone through, I love the choice I made to live in Beirut, I love Beirut.
Today, I don’t know who I am. I used to be an ambitious filmmaker until the 4th of August 2020 came. One year later, I feel like a shadow floating in a decomposing city under reconstruction. During the October 17 Revolution, I moved back to the city to fight and be part of the change; however, change happened on the 4th of August when everything collapsed and uncertainty became king. Beirut what makes me come back to you? I joined the cine-jam film lab “Ana Beirut” to try to understand my feelings and redefine my relationship with what’s left of you.
If I had one word to summarize my experience with Cine-Jam Film Lab, conducted by Muriel Aboulrouss, I would say it was MAGICAL. Just after the blast of the 4th of August 2020, I was rebuilding my home, taking care of my wounds, and trying to get things back to normal. In the process, things changed and all of Beirut’s citizens felt it. We were really down, trying to cope with what we had left in this city of fear and uncertainty. The call of ‘Ana Beirut The Series’ came just in time, a few months into my healing process with my therapist. I accepted the terms of the workshop and decided to face my fears and talk about the city and my feelings towards it. I took the challenge as part of my healing process. I followed my intuition to create a movie with no script, no preparation, only genuine emotions. The process was new to me and bringing out my deepest feelings wasn’t easy at first, especially when it came to listening to my inner voice and my deepest emotions to create a movie that would reflect them.
During the workshop, I realized that everything we resent can become the infrastructure of artwork; a base we can build on to paint a true image of what we want to say. I did my best to reconnect with myself and hear what others felt while watching the rushes in the nonjudgmental setting that aimed to narrow down, channel, and develop my piece of art. I never thought that I could make a movie about what happened after the 4th of August; however, extracting my feelings during the workshop helped me regain confidence and clarity while boosting my
self-esteem to be the artist I had put aside. This workshop taught me that sincere emotions are essential to create any true artwork, an artwork that can be a real soul healer and that’s what is MAGICAL about it all.
Jean Pierre Abdayem
I was small and afraid. So happy and excited, but afraid. Camera in hand, the possibilities were vast, so vast I feared choosing. My teacher looked at me and smiled, I felt relief wash over me… now courageous the picture snapped in focus before my eyes. I chose life, and when I started shooting, I captured nothing but death! I got scared! Again, my teacher came back to me and whispered “this is Cinema, it brings out the life from the pits of death!” I calmed, I smiled and I went to Beirut because Cinema is Beirut and I am Beirut.
When my phone rang that day and I got invited to join the film lab, it felt like a breath of fresh air. Circumstances change overnight, don’t they? My choice to be in the arts and in filmmaking was an impulsive one. I don’t consciously know the reasons for that choice. All I know is that my entire being and feelings are mesmerized with all kinds of art and artistic forms of expression. Especially the audiovisual art form. I knew right from the start that my struggle wasn’t with Beirut itself, nor Lebanon, nor the system. I went into that workshop and came out of it still hating this city and country. That didn’t change. But that wasn’t all. In that film lab, I met some young men and women who have a way of feeling, expressing and approaching things that were different from mine. The only thing we had in common was our love of cinema. They held me when I didn’t have the strength to hold myself. From day 1, my questions to myself started making their way to the surface. Questions about what I truly wanted, what I loved, who I was, what I was, my relationship with Beirut through my own relationship with myself, with my family, my past, my present, my fears, etc. To be honest, I wasn’t ready for this journey. This Film-Lab allowed me to express my deepest self, in all honesty, along with its aspirations, its own style and identity. I fully chose that. But I must admit, it’s a dense kind of workshop that communicates with the soul, and mine isn’t ready to do that just yet. Ana Beirut #5 is my episode, it’s nothing more than the fruit of a number of struggles that helped me understand and analyze myself. I am grateful and in debt to everyone who helped me and supported me in this creative process. Ultimately, this workshop introduced me to a new cinematic style and signature which I might or might not explore in the future. The experience of it is truly worthy of mentioning. But above all, this workshop got me one step, albeit small, closer to myself, and that’s what I need more than ever right now.
A curious human being with a head full of questions about life. Son of a firefighter and a nurse. Seeking true happiness amidst unfairness spreading on a spot of land called Beirut. The latest creations turning life upside down, a baby called Maria. Ana Beirut, a cinematic gift in these hard times and a trial to reconnect with myself and to find answers.
Joining this film lab was a mature decision to escape from all the loudness, noise and chaos we live in. It was an authentic film creation experience far away from the mainstream and the common rules. Meeting and sharing with other artists allows you to join as an individual and leave with the spirit of many held in your heart. There’s something addictive about this 40-day experience, we always want more … Rooftop, Food, Cinema & Beirut what a hell of a combination! Thanks to Muriel Aboulrouss, the person behind this enriching initiative.
A filmmaker with a pocketful of dreams. Living one day at a time, enjoying the little things in life and loving art in all its beauty. They say people who don’t know how to express themselves are the best listeners. Well, here I am. Therefore, relying on arts is the most comfortable way to communicate, express myself and heal. Since our voices are barely heard, my work comes to portray my heart, my thoughts, my feelings towards everything happening, and it feels like a therapy. I get attached to people and places easily, so imagine what does Beirut means to me, the city I have lived in since I was a little girl. People and the cities are my main inspirations because they are the most realistic aspects in life. When you look around, everything is really daring. We dare to dream, to love, to live. Being part of Home of Cine-Jam & “Ana Beirut” the series is a step forward to self-love, faith in our own abilities, change and making peace.
When I first got invited to join the Cine-Jam film lab conducted by Muriel Aboulrouss, I didn’t think twice and willingly said yes to this new adventure. I felt it was a much-needed experience amidst this chaos and uncertainty we’re living in, and it could be my only sweet escape. Being part of Ana Beirut the series, was an opportunity to explore ourselves and the city we live in, to discuss our feelings towards everything that’s happening. The place felt like home, the artists became family. Everything felt like a therapy process of creating authentic films that reflect who we really are, what we are feeling, how we are reacting. Sharing this personal piece of ourselves to the world is very challenging, but more importantly, it’s definitely a step forward towards self-love, healing, faith in our abilities, change and making peace. May art remain the only ray of hope in this country.
I risk and throw myself in everything that I want. Breaker of rules; I overuse my energy because it makes me feel fresh and extremely alive. I am open to receive from this universe, especially when it’s out of my control because it feels magical. To me, nothing is impossible, I am always dreaming and imagining. I don’t plan for the future; I just live in the now. Wild is my lifestyle. I love cinema, dance, theater, music, sports. I love interacting with people but I hate the media and the whole system we live in. Whatever happens in Lebanon I will stay and fight. “ANA BEIRUT” was a chance for her to meet beautiful people and for inner voices to relieve all the love and emotions out loud through an authentic cinematic expression. Lebanon I will stay and fight.
The Cine-Jam Film Lab & “Ana Beirut” was a one-of-a-kind experience where the Home of Cine-Jam roof held our stories, our struggles, our laughs, cries, and love. Where we let out our emotions and learn from them. It was a healer and a happy place. I wished I could take all of that environment with me because we all need to say things out loud and break the fears, to dare to dig deep into ourselves purely, with simplicity and honesty. Artistically the Cine-Jam Filmlab was a process that all the universities and artists should learn from!! It’s a process of artistic self-growth reaching intuitive creations and constructive communications. There are no rules or a system judging us… there was an authentic exchange in Art and in Life…We were all “Ana Beirut”
At 6 years old, I was on the bus and a little bit sad. I was feeling very different than my other classmates, in my school environment. When I felt a sudden clarity, my eye became bigger, bigger than the bus and everything. I looked at the girl in the back of the bus, one of my classmates, her mother by her side; and I thought: “would I be the same if I was her? living her life?” That same eye answered: “Yes of course, yes!” Then I looked at my mom and myself, with that external eye. I felt that despite all the complexity of my life. I really preferred to be Shérine. I was happy with myself. 30 years later. I’m still …happy to be Shérine. I joined “Ana Beirut” because it’s a way for me to deeply connect with other creators, process my environment, and mostly to dwell in my inner current, as an artist, this time through filmmaking. And like a muscle, strengthened my inner stability, in the purest and Vivid way.
I didn’t want to take part in this filmlab at first. I had decided never to touch the cameras anymore. But this was more than a tool story. This initiative is above all an immersion into oneself. Witnessing a dominant emotion, meeting it in-depth, and letting clarity emerge. Poetically. And even if I didn’t want to express the darkness of my feeling yet. Once more, I realized, on a deeper level, that it’s always a way to fully expose the light and its beauty, which I now choose to consciously cultivate in my life, in this city that is Beirut, and in this country that is Lebanon. To mainly cultivate Beauty and freshness. The Cine-Jam film lab and Ana Beirut the series, is a long-term project that will go on in the next years, highlighting artists, what a precious gift! Tasting all of these essences! Awakening creators and this city to everything that it is. I’m very grateful to have created one episode. It’s a real intuitive and collaborative project where it’s not the ego that speaks but rather the essence of each one, the scents of life. And the many scents of a city, here, Beirut. Beirut, that is very present, far beyond its injuries. Thank you Home of ciné jam for your great support.
I am a person who loves freedom and real people, far from everything that harms the soul.
I respect the other and respect his opinion. I am full of love and peace. I am the creator of “Nafas w Barakeh”. I chose to be in this initiative ” Ana Beirut ” in order to express my love for my country in my own way. It is an opportunity to discover the secret of this love for this country, the country of the message, and its richness with all its being of people, the beauty of nature, and the magic of the city of Beirut.
I was born and raised in Achrafieh, Beirut is my home, the place where I was loved, where I got lost, and where I became who I am today. I was looking for myself until I started going to university and this is where I met Muriel. You helped me find my film and your presence in my life means a lot to me. I am so happy that we are in each other’s lives. In the film lab, while creating Ana Beirut the series, I was so happy to witness the love, joy, and emotions we shared together. How amazing it was to feel at home on Home of Cine-Jam rooftop and your intuitive film-lab is a pure act of generosity and love. I was filled with genuine love, a love that was given to each and every one of us, and it’s a love that will remain forever. people need that in Lebanon and if they would experience what we did with you, Beirut would be a better place. I wish for this film-lab to continue for as long as possible and for filmmakers to know that there is a place and people who love and believe in them. Merci Muriel, Denise, and Home of Cine-Jam for this initiative and for reconnecting us all with who we are, our creative intuition, and our hearts.
Sevine Abi Aad
A citizen of the world and a teller of stories. I’ve been singing all my life and my artistic path has always been accompanied by a thirst for connection. Through singing, my core objective is to remind people that we are all the same.
We’ve all experienced heartbreak, loneliness, passion and deep melancholy. I think Zyara is doing that in its own way, reminding everyone that being human is gut wrenching and it can sometimes a little too much for the soul… and at others, it is the most beautiful thing in the world; and that’s one of the many reasons I consider myself privileged to be a part of the Zyara family. May we always stand firm in our humanity, kindness and poetic beauty.
Nancy Iskander (aka Alex)
Film Lab Coordinator
Alex is the name I chose for myself: a person who is defined by genuineness, grace, and freedom. After living in survival mode for over 5 years away from home, ANA BEIRUT offers a gateway to connecting with my inner self as a person and a filmmaker once again. I dream of living a life of making a difference: touching hearts and changing mindsets
Aiman Yahya Jabayee
I am Aiman Yahya Jabayee. Born in Malaysia, I have lived, beyond my home nation, in the United States and England and Lebanon and am missing only a stint in South America to complete that rare trait of a “well-rounded” global perspective. Aside from international travel, other interests of mine include sports such as football and activities such as tabletop gaming and literature composed of cheap writing “conventions” such as run-on sentences.
Both my interests and my career can be rooted in their extensions of the photochemical process, in which people would sit together in purpose built rooms, watching and working and waiting all the same for the purpose of things feeling right. My privilege is to have done this for the past five years, and my want is to extend that gift to more years and more places.
Marie Jo Safi
A Creative Mind, a Neuroscience Enthusiast and an Adrenaline Addict, Marie Jo is the founder of Creative Innovation LB. She believes in the principle of leadership by example. Her dream is to be able to combine Science and Arts in a very unique way which aims to make a certain difference and leave an impact. Because we rise by lifting others, volunteering in this initiative would be an opportunity for me to grow bolder and feed my hunger for knowledge
This happening by accident, being born in Beirut, has inspired him to express his pursue for beauty through the city’s imperfection in different forms of visual arts.
As a director and photographer, he uses his skills to break all visible and invisible boundaries. He doesn’t only show his point of view in his image, but also unintentionally helps the viewer understand better the mystery of this world and discover something new about them. He undoubtedly believes that the screen and the photograph can be used as a transformative tool to highlight on any social, political and humanistic case, therefore he is always up for any challenge that has to do with all aspects of this field.
Following my mother’s footsteps, I have developed a passion for cooking and baking.
Making food, whether it is for my family or not, is a process I do with care.
I believe that when you add a bit of love to your food, it instantly becomes better, but don’t tell anyone, that’s my secret ingredient.