Leaving, Returning (2020)

As a response to my inability to start my adult life (in a conventional sense) in Lebanon, I decided to leave. The desire and the decision to leave, while voluntary and personal, are related directly or indirectly to social, political, and financial events, some of which predate me, and others predate the concept of Lebanon as a polity. As I left, an uprising erupted back in Lebanon, out the despair of an intensifying economic crisis, whose beginnings led me to leave.


“Leaving, Returning” is a reflection on my struggle to reconcile my decision to leave and the feeling of abandoning, first my family, second an imaginary nation I was taught to worship as a god, and third the fight to change reality without escaping. The film starts by questioning the construct of a nation state, and investigating the construction of the concept of Lebanon as a nation in my head through memories. Through these temporal projections, the work ventures to contextualise this constructed image in history, and relates it to my decision to leave; which addresses my feeling abandoning the nation. As a replacement for the nation, the film contemplates social relations (of alliance) as a means for the expansion of possibilities through difference, without the need for imagined similarities like national identity; which addresses my feeling of abandoning my family. Finally, an uprising after years of stagnation and compliance made me question the limits of what is possible and with that my decision to leave. From here, the work reflects with a certain anxiety on my engagement with my reality, by questioning the value of abstract worlds (of thought and of social media) in a political context.