Date: Friday 29 March
Venue: Cinema One
A Feeling Greater Than Love, Dir. Mary Jirmanus Saba, Lebanon, 2017, DCP, 93 min., Arabic with English subtitles
For her directorial debut, Mary Jirmanus Saba has made a poignant, self-aware and brilliantly constructed essayistic enquiry into the political activism of factory workers, especially women, in Lebanon before the outbreak of the civil war in 1975. Her film focuses particularly on two major strikes, one in a biscuit factory, the other in the tobacco industry, and it investigates the memory traces of these largely forgotten events, and of the brave people who fought for their dignity in the face of deep-rooted injustice and longstanding oppression. Through a careful mixture of present-day interviews and discussions with archival footage from the militant cinema of the period, Jirmanus Saba constructs a lucid and informative conversation between past and present, asking important questions about why this type of popular activism now seems to belong to a lost era. Did the protracted period of civil war that Lebanon experienced for the next fifteen years simply wipe out the possibility of social transformation? Or is that too easy and reductive an explanation of these complex, multifaceted historical events, which Jirmanus Saba’s film patiently explores, with a special attention to the significant role played by women in organising strikes and raising political consciousness?