Ein libanesischer Dokumentarfilm ist der Überraschungserfolg im Forum der Berlinale 2009. In dem Film "One Man Village" zeigt der junge Regisseur Simon El Habre die Geschichte seines Onkels Semaan. Semaan lebt als Einziger in dem kleinen Bergdorf Ain al-Halazoun, das in den 1980er Jahren wie so viele Dörfer im Choufgebirge fast vollständig zerstört wurde. Die Bevölkerung war zuvor zermürbt von den Angriffen der israelischen Armee und der verschiedenen rivalisierenden Milizen geflohen.
Nach Ende des Krieges wurde in den 90er Jahren eine nationale Versöhnung ausgerufen und den vertriebenen Christen erlaubt, in ihre Heimatorte zurückzukehren. Doch heute ist Ain al-Halazoun noch immer ein Geisterdorf. Nur Semaan El Habre lebt hier allein mit seinen Hunden, Pferden und Kühen. Nur am Wochenende und an den Feiertagen kommen die anderen Dorfbewohner - fast alles Verwandte von Semaan - um den charismatischen Einsiedler zu besuchen oder die Felder auf ihren verlassenen Grundstücken zu bestellen.
In seinem ebenso berührenden wie humorvollen Film befasst sich Simon El Habre mit der kollektiven Amnesie, mit der viele Libanesen auf die Ereignisse des Bürgerkriegs, der fast 100000 Tote gefordert hatte, reagieren. Gleichzeitig beschäftigt er sich mit der Frage, ob eine von oben angeordnete Versöhnung möglich ist in einem Land in dem im Laufe der Jahrzehnte fast jeder irgendwann gegen jeden kämpfte.
Wir haben am Mittwoch mit Simon El Habre gesprochen:
What was your motivation to shoot a movie about your uncle's life in the abandoned village?
My aim was to deal with the question of memories, in particular with the traumatic experiences of the Lebanese civil war. In my country there has been no process of coming to terms with one's past. Even if things seem calm for months or years, the society cannot live without the fear of war. The scars of the atrocities during the war have not even allowed objective in-depth research about what happenend. Everybody is caught in the historic narrative of its confession, political movement, family and so on.
Therefore, I chose a contemplative form to deal with the issue of memories.
How did your uncle, the protagonist, react when you told him about your plan to document his life?
He immediately said yes. Semaan had been acting in other projects of mine before and even fellow students had been working with him. He loves to play with the camera and to present his unique and authentic character. He had, so to speak, some "professional" experience.
After the end of the civil war in 1990 the leading politicians announced a reconciliation process? Did this process succeed?
Reconciliation between the supporters of hostile actors in the civil war did not happen. Even if former fierce enimies, like Samir Geagea and Walid Jumblat in the case of the Chouf Mountains, form a political alliance for whatsoever reasons the deep-rooted mistrust against each other remains among their supporters. The government is also responsible for the lack of social reconciliation. For example, in the Chouf there are neither common schools for Christians and Druze nor common social programs for the youth of both religious communities.
What could be done to overcome this mistrust?
Summer camps for young people from both communities could be one idea. Or soccer teams of mixed villages that could compete with teams from other regions in Lebanon. These measures could help to create a common sense of belonging, a uniting identity.
Currently many sport teams in Lebanon are regarded by their supporters as the pride of one certain community although in some cases their players come from various backgrounds. For example in basketball the popular team Sporting is perceived as playing for the "honor" of the Sunni community because the leading staff are sunni. The same goes with Sagesse that is mostly supported by Christians.
In many interviews former villagers were hesitant to answer the question who destroyed their homes. In most cases Israel was blamed. Only after further inquiry some villagers mentioned Walid Jumblat's Socialist Party (PSP), a Lebanese movement, as the direct opponent in the clashes. Is Israel's doubtless active role in the civil war sometimes used in order to avoid the question of the Lebanese movements' responsibilities for atrocities?
Without a doubt external powers like Israel share a great responsibility for the escalation of conflicts in the Lebanese civil war. But at the same time we must start acknowledging that the Lebanese people were also the victims of the Lebanese militias.
How was the film perceived in Lebanon?
So far "One Man Village" has only been shown to a small audience. The reaction was very positive. People approached me and said that the film puts our whole complex past in one and a half hour.
The office for censorship allowed to screen the movie without any restrictions although we were fighting a little about one phrase. Semaan says concerning the clashes with the Socialist Party: "...and then the Israelis left and gave the Socialist Party the green light to attack us...". The office regarded this statement as a threat to the "social peace" in Lebanon.
Last question: has Semaan finally found a wife?
(Laughs) I have been asked this question every time after screening the film. He is not married yet.
Das Interview führten Christoph Sydow und Christoph Dinkelaker.
Auf der Berlinale läuft "One Man Village" am 15.2. ein letztes Mal um 12 Uhr im Cinestar 8 am Potsdamer Platz.