Archives / 1988 Sundance Film Festival

Beirut: The Last Home Movie

Director: Jennifer Fox

Screenwriters: Jennifer Fox, John Mullen

Institute History

  • 1988 Sundance Film Festival

Description

A Chekhovian true-life tale of three handsome sisters, scions of one of Lebanon’s wealthiest families, who live with their mother and brother in a 200-year-old palace—located in one of Beirut’s most heavily bombed areas. As the sound of gunfire and missiles resound, Gaby, Nyla, and Mouna take tea in their tree-shaded garden and entertain the occasional visitor, often the Washington Post’s war correspondent, now a family friend. Christian Ashrafia, their once-elegant neighborhood, is nearly deserted. Why do the three sisters insist upon staying; enduring fires, snipers, bombings, sieges and the constant threat of death? Shades of Buñuel’s Exterminating Angel.

As the film opens, Gaby Bustros, who left home at age 19 to work and study abroad, prepares to return to Beirut. A front page story in the Washington Post has detailed the damage recently suffered by her ancestral home: “After so many thousands of casualties and six years of war, it was a day to mourn the passing of trees in a garden that once was a symbol of calm in the Lebanese capital.” Gaby introduces us to her family and to a way of life that is all but extinct in today’s Beirut.

— Karen Cooper

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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