Months of challenging shoots and emotional interviews, documenting the physical and psychological impact of the August 4th Port Explosion in Beirut have finally been recognized. Fadia Ahmad received the first award for her documentary “Beirut, The Aftermath”from the Argenteuil International Film Festival in France. The film was awarded Best Feature Documentary for the July Edition Winners. The same week, the documentary was also selected to be part of the Lebanese Film Festival in Canada for this season. These two acknowledgments indicate a pivotal moment for Ahmad and for those who have been fighting for their voice, and the injustices they’ve endured, to be recognized on an international scale.
The Argenteuil International Film Festival occurs every month in Argenteuil, France and consists of a live screening of different films nominated formore than 15 categories. Winners are chosen in part by a jury, and in part by a public vote.Monthly winners are then invited to participate in an annual event to celebrate their achievement. Across the Atlantic, the Lebanese Film Festival in Canada is a season long event with plans to hold a live screening event in Montreal, Laval, Toronto, and Ottowa in September. The selection of Ahmad’s film means more exposure for Ahmad, but, more importantly, for the story that she shares. The selection of Ahmad’s film in these two festivals an important milestone for the Lebanese public, and for female Arab filmmakers. It also ensures the documentary as an important historical document that will memorialize the events of the blast for decades to come.
Fadia Ahmad is a photographer, filmmaker, and now director, born and raised in Alicante, Spain to Lebanese parents. She majored in Cinematography and has been pursuing her passion for the arts ever since. Her photographic practice is largely focused on raising awareness about untold stories, especially in Lebanon. In her most recent series, Beyrouth/Beirut, Ahmad traced a path of 10,452 steps (reflecting the surface area of the Lebanon) through one of Beirut’s cultural and social arteries, photographing people, spaces, and streets along her way. It was this daily commute that allowed Ahmad to connect to the city, finally developing a true relationship with Beirut and with its people.
When the blast took place, it all but annihilated those same streets Ahmad had traversed day after day. Her 10,452-step path extended through the blast radius so that all she had admired and loved about Beirut came tumbling down, taking lives and ruining others. Devastated and heartbroken, Ahmad was overcome with a sense of duty to document the tragedy. She was compelled togive a platform to her beloved city and its people, to draw attention to their strength, their pain, and their spirit. This is how “Beirut, The Aftermath” was born.
In the documentary, Ahmad takes viewers on a journey to bear witness to theimpact of the devastating explosion. She interviews a range of witnesses about their experiences and their reactionsto the blast, offering a deeply human perspective on an otherwise inhuman event. While filming, Ahmad gets close to the public and experiences everything firsthand, listening to painful memories and sharing moments of empathy. Yet, even in the chaos and agony, Ahmad is still able to share with viewers the raw beauty and energy of Beirut.
Throughout the coming year, “Beirut, The Aftermath” will be running inother international festivals, to share the story with even wider audience. Bringing a documentary like Ahmad’s into the international spotlight is necessary to ensure that Beirut’s tragedy is never forgotten and to bring justice to those who were affected. “Beirut, The Aftermath”is deeply touching, but also motivational. Embedded in the tragedy of August 4th is also a deep seeded, churning anger that is directed towards the Lebanese government. Those in power who allowed such a preventable event to unfold and offered little to no assistance in aiding the community afterwards. Thus, Ahmad’s film is a document for all who witnessed the tragic event to hold up and say, “This is our story. We were there, we haven’t forgotten, and we will hold those in power accountable.”