Best international feature Documentary at the Hot Docs was announced yesterday night and the winner was the Lebanese filmmaker Simon El Habre with this ”The One Man Village”, well deserved for a charming and well constructed film. Here is the review I wrote when I saw the film at DoxBox in Damascus in March:
It is one of those minimalistic films that subject-wise has been seen so many times: Man lives alone outside the cities, big house, animals - cows, chicken, horses, cats and dogs - he has retired from the noisy world full of pollution and he has a fine life. A bit excentric, yes, but clever and sweet to the filmmaker, his nephew, the Lebanese film director Simon El Habre, who masters a narrative full of warmth and surprises with the behind the camera nephew getting closer and closer to his uncle and his story. And why are you not married, have you ever been in love, what happened to your parents... questions are asked, the uncle demonstrates his passion for the animals, gets into his old, rusty car to go downhill with the milk, and slowly we understand that the village is emptied because of what happened in the civil war in Lebanon between 1975 and 1990. The film has an extraordinary sound design and you are not bored for a moment. It was in Berlin, it goes to Nyon and Hotdocs, well-deserved. Tell your local festival to screen it.
... in Damascus the audience enjoyed the film with big applause. What an uncle to have! Charismatic, energetic, with a smile in his eyes all the time, a happy man.