The essence of being
*article written by Marie-Christine Tayah
Human and humane.
She is. On screens, with striking fragility on the outside and strength on the inside. After the twirling tangos of the years gone by, Henriette, Hady Zaccak’s grandmother outshines memory and suspended moments… She remains.
No masks, no skin. Transparency and vulnerability at its utmost… Yet, memory after memory, Henriette unveils the one and only superpower capable of healing all wounds, of clearing all judgments: love.
The one that embraces life and its ending, movement and stillness, the people who’re permanently there and the other ones whose visits become rare as time goes by. Empathy. Love, unconditionally. Beyond names and faces, beyond what fades out with age, beyond the years that enlighten each dawn and the everlasting wishes blown away with every birthday candles. Erasing all daily question marks and the multitude of questionable facts and attitudes, only one question lingers: ‘do you love me?’ And suddenly, nothing else really matters anymore.
Moving. With the camera movements, between lights and shadows, see-through moments, eternalized emotions and transcendent feel. Musical rhymes and rhythms, souvenirs from out of space, different time, faded feelings. Throughout pain, sorrow, happy moments, family gatherings, tiny details, endless conversations repeated over and over again, until the very last words fall apart, as a living proof of existing, still… a shy smile. Henriette smiles to each person who comes in. A smile says it all. It is more powerful than the strongest scream, the saddest tears, the unbreakable silence, the betraying memory. Elders’ brave smiles embrace all; everything and everyone. 104 wrinkles are engraved with kindness…
‘A (new) lesson in history’
This story artistically draws a light yet consistent thread between Lebanon’s history, its leaders, the emigration issue, the inner turmoil of the travelers who decide to come back to their country after spending several years abroad. Still, the spotlight is obviously set on Henriette this time. Coming from Hady Zaccak, a maestro in historical documentaries, -having written and directed more than twenty to this date, this choice is definitely justified. For the first time, Hady’s story lands with us on an unpredictable land, the one of a human being, in all its wholeness. A lesson on a different level, in the history of life field. No borderlines, no wars, no positions. Only one’s existence kept alive through shots, so that its ‘voice, picture, and even smell’ wouldn’t fade away, says Hady. Having started filming his grandma when she was 83, he was preserving her from the last departure by keeping her memory alive. Instead of finding answers to his quest, he ‘found questions… about life, family, love…’ Isn’t this quest for the ultimate truth, -as well as for the essence and essential keys of being that keeps us alive?
‘We are all in this together.’
Starting with director Hady Zaccak’s dream team, the same names recurrently prevail through time. One family. Leaving the world of warcraft behind, Hady’s film takes whoever watches it on an inner yet universal journey, puts us face to face with life, death, family, bonds, relationships, feelings, and delicately puts down all barriers and personal self-defense walls. We laugh and we cry, we freeze and we smile. Beyond virtual realities, the audience, the director, the screens, the film star Henriette, her family, us, you and me are one. Simply humans.
An ode for life… Ya Omri.
*Scriptwriter, director: Hady Zaccak
DOP: Muriel Aboulrouss
Sound Design: Emile Aouad
Sound Engineer: Mouhab Shanesaz
Editors: Hady Zaccak, Elias Chahine
Produced by: Zac Films