Under the Bombs

Institute History

  • 2008 Sundance Film Festival


In the summer of 2006, Lebanon was relentlessly bombed for 34 days in a row. Bold and riveting, Under the Bombs is Philippe Aractingi’s captivating account of what happens next. Amidst the smoke and turmoil, the beautiful, wealthy Zeina returns from abroad in a frivolously bright blue dress that starkly contrasts with the dark reality she faces. Desperate for a cab, she meets Tony, an oddly endearing driver who, because of her beautiful eyes, risks the perilous drive to the heavily affected southern region to search for her missing sister and son.

Against a scarred terrain of sun-drenched ruins, bombed-out roads, and lush lands peppered with live cluster shells, Zeina frantically grasps at strands of information to uncover her family’s whereabouts. Meanwhile, an unlikely intimacy takes root between Zeina and Tony that eludes romantic clichés to become another kind of love: the recognition of a shared humanity that renders differences of class, religion, and politics irrelevant.

Shot 10 days into the actual bombings with many nonactors, Aractingi’s sophisticated film hovers willfully between narrative and documentary, lending rare authenticity and access to an emotionally powerful, fast-paced, and haunting story. Nuanced, complex characters illuminate the personal trauma of war, effectively leaving behind the reactionary politics of either warring side, Hezbollah or the Israeli military. Instead, we are offered the possibility of salvaged hope, new beginnings, and ultimately, peace—from under the bombs.

— Roya Rastegar

Screening Details

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