the fire these times

71/ Bearing Witness to What is Lost: Lebanon’s ‘Postwar’ Hauntings (with Ely Dagher)


Coming soon.

This is a conversation with Lebanese director Ely Dagher. He is the director of the Palme D’Or-winning Waves ’98 (available above), one of my favorite short films. He also has an upcoming feature film called The Sea Ahead.

I highly recommend watching Waves ’98 before listening to the episode. It’s only 15 minutes long 🙂

Topics discussed:

  • Waves ’98
  • The image of the city
  • The 2015 ‘You Stink’ Lebanon uprising: context/background
  • The feeling of history repeating itself: Waves ’98 features the 1998 waste crisis which led to the 2015 waste crisis (which led to the uprising)
  • Inter-generational anxiety: ‘I don’t want to end up like them’
  • On resilience and why it’s a failed notion
  • The ‘ghostly figure’ in literature and movies, including in Lebanon
  • Haunting from the future, the feel of being stuck (permanent liminality)
  • The post-August 2020 port of Beirut moment
  • Interesting comparisons between Lebanon and Hong Kong, and their relationship with the past and future
  • How do we live day to day while also being in a state of anxiety? (his upcoming film)
  • How Beirut is portrayed in Waves ’98 and how Beirut has changed since the 90s
  • The relationship to the city and the sea in Beirut
  • Beirut as a ghost town
  • Hauntings in Waves ’98 and in real life; cyclical hauntings
  • Our peculiar relationship with Television
  • Our complicated relationship with the sea growing up in post-1990s Lebanon
  • The politics of decay (my essay on the topic)
  • war/post-war vs war/not-war
  • The anticipation of violence
  • ‘wartime’
  • Is there a way out of that cyclical haunting?

Recommended Books & Movies

Resources mentioned

Episodes mentioned:


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Music by Tarabeat.

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