Studio Beyrouth (Studio Beirut), directed by Mokhtar Beyrouth, is a tribute to Beirut in the 1960’s. The film is about a photographer and his adventure with a photo booth. It’s about how the protagonist’s photo studio is threatened when the mayor installs the country’s first photo booth next to the studio. It tries to show the relation between a machine and a human.
“Photography for me is like a shelter where I can express myself.”
Beyrouth, a portrait and fashion photographer found inspiration for the movie while researching about photography in Lebanon before the civil war era. This period was when Beirut was referred to as the Paris of the Middle East and this was the period he wanted to showcase in his movie. He wanted to do a movie that was meaningful and that showed his connection to Beirut, which is how the name came about.
The fact that it was a short film was not an obstacle for him as while he was writing the script, he kept the time frame in mind. He knew his goal, and it was to make a simple, comedy film that would show the Lebanese society. He knew to mainly focus on the relationship between the photographer and the machine. Unlike many directors, he felt that time was not an issue as all he had to do was to execute the plan he had made.
“As a film student, it helps a lot if you know how to photograph.”
While talking about the transition from still images to moving images, Beyrouth talks about how he treats his photo shoots as a film where he wants to convey a message through his photos. They interconnect with each other and the advantage of using a camera was that through his movie, he could express a lot more than through his photos.
Mokhtar Beyrouth debuts as a filmmaker through this movie for the first time through the Gulf Film Festival. He is also a photographer, specializing in male conceptual photography. Through Studio Beyrouth, he graduated from Saint Joseph University, Beirut at the top of his class in film making.
“Filmmakers should help each other at the end of the day because we all have messages to say.”
He talked about how happy his first experience at the Gulf Film Festival was. For Beyrouth, a platform such as this is very important as it’s a good exposure for young filmmakers, such as him and, it also motivates him to direct and write more films. The event also allows for people to socialize and make connections.
By Kavita Mehrotra