Memory Box

  • Story line
    On Christmas day in Montreal, Maia and her daughter Alex receive an unexpected delivery from Beirut. There are notebooks, tapes and photographs, a whole correspondence, that Maia, from 13 to 18 years old, sent from Beirut to her best friend who had left for Paris to escape the civil war. Maia refuses to open the box or confront its memories, but Alex secretly begins diving into it. Between fantasy and reality, Alex discovers the world of her mother’s tumultuous, passionate adolescence in the 80s, and well kept secrets.
  • Production

    A film by:

    Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige
    Produced by:Haut et Court Abbout Productions Micro_scope
    Financed by:Centre National du Cinéma et de l’Image Animée Téléfilm Canada SODEC (Société de développement des entreprises culturelles) Québec – Québec Crédit d’impôt cinéma et télévision Gestion SODEC – Crédit d’impôt pour production cinématographique ou magnétoscopique Canadienne
    With the support of:TV5 Monde The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) SANAD TWOFOUR54 Abu Dhabi Super Écran Radio Canada
    With the participation of:Groupe Geocoton-Advens Junior Lteif Michael Zammar
    Developed with the support of:Programme Europe Creative – Media de l’Union Européenne PROCIREP
  • Cast and Crew
    CastManal Issa Paloma Vauthier Rim Turki Clemence Sabbagh Hassan Akil Nisrine Abi Samra
    Executive ProducersGinger Beirut Productions (Abla Khoury and Lara Karam Chekerdjian)
    ProducersGeorges Schoucair Christian Eid Carole Scotta Barbara Letellier Kim McCraw Luc Déry Jasmyrh Lemoine
    Associate ProducersSimon Arnal Caroline Benjo Laurence Petit
    ScenarioJoana Hadjithomas Khalil Joreige Gaëlle Macé
    MusicRadwan Ghazi Moumneh
    Additional MusicCharbel Haber
    CinematographerJosée Deshaies
    SoundGuillaume Le Braz Rana Eid Olivier Goinard
    EditorTina Baz
    Graphic Visual EffectsLaurent Brett
    Set DesignMaïa El Khoury Mary Lynn Deachman Franckie Diago
    CostumesLara Mae Khamis
    Make UpFanny Vachon
    Time102 mins
    Format2.39 – 16/9
    LanguageArabic & French
  • Director's note
    From the age of 13 to 18, Joana wrote every day in notebooks to her best friend at the time, recorded tapes and sent numerous pictures. She shared with her every minute of her teenage life during the raging civil war and her friend did the same from Paris. Every month, her father came to Beirut, handed her a notebook she had written and, in turn, Joana gave him another notebook. It lasted until they were 18. 25 years later, after a long separation, they met again and she gave back all their correspondence. Having all those archives within reach, diving into the narratives, the memories of youth and war, hearing on the cassettes a teenager’s voice, Joana’s, which she did not recognise, created a strong emotion, the more so as her own daughter had just celebrated her 13th birthday and was extremely intrigued by her mother’s notebooks. Should she let her daughter read those notebooks, what did sharing memories, a history mean? How can they be passed on? How can they be transmitted? One of the questions we all raise whatever our experience of life is the relation to memory and to the past, to a story and its possible transmission. What is it that remains, what should remain? Their work, Joana and Khalil’s, as artists and filmmakers has centered for years on the representation of their present, the writing of History and the fabrication of imaginaries. The material from the notebooks seems a perfect way to explore this. Based on this biographic data and on Khalil’s photographic archives taken in the 80’s also, they imagined a fictional film: Three generations of women and their relationship with the past. The story of Maia, who left Lebanon at 18 to emigrate, as many Lebanese, to Canada and of Alex, her 13 years old daughter, born there. Through Maia’s writings and tapes, those « visions and phantasms », Alex delves into the History of Lebanon and the daily life in the 80s. Stories, characters emerge and evolve over the years. We follow them growing, going from teenagers to young adults. Alex imagines and constitutes scenes of the intense past of her mother in a fantasist and creative way. It is directly inspired from Joana & Khalil’s artistic experimentations and recreates, through photographs and sounds, the universe of the 80’s in a different way, each time. Once she discovers the notebooks, Alex lives a life by proxy, that of her mother at the same age. From one notebook to the other, she is caught up in the suspense of the various episodes of a saga, a serie whose heroine is her mother. She is also plundged in Maia’s world: her friends, her love affairs, her teenage concerns, the fashion and the music of the 80’s: New wave, punk and hard rock form the natural soundtrack of the film. We are transported in those years with their energy, their joy, their intensity. Later, when Maia continues telling the story, her memories unfold in a more realistic mode. Maia’s past is incomplete and full of holes, made of secrets, things left unsaid and latency which are revealed as the film unfolds but still accessible in a way. Whereas, Alex’s present, so connected and dealing with a continuous flux of information that cannot be treated by the memory and becomes strangely equivalent to oblivion. Two generations, two youths, two relations to storytelling, memory and history… When both arrive to Beirut, there is a confrontation between the phantasm, the imaginary, the memories and the painful present. Of a city confronted to chaos and loss. But some transmission, some liberation from the painful past, will take place, some friendships are restored and for a moment, for just an evening, the group of friends of the 80’s will be reunited, just for a moment. And Alex will get closer to cycles of destruction and regeneration that is life sometimes.
  • Screenings
    71st Berlin International Film Festival 2021 Sydney Film Festival 2021 18th Seville European Film Festival Cinemania Festival 2021, awarded the Best Quebec co-production film 18th Hong Kong Asian Film Festival Bildrausch Filmfest Basel 2021 Lisbon & Estoril Film Festival 2021 49th Festival La Rochelle Cinéma 2021 39th Torino Film Festival 2021 43rd Festival Cinéma Méditerranéen Cinemed 2021 43rd Cairo International Film Festival 2021, awarded the Saad Eldin Wahba Award for Best Arab Film Festival du Film Libanais de France 2021 Melbourne International Film Festival Bergen International Film Festival 2021 24th Shanghai International Film Festival 55th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival Tokyo FILMeX 2021 40th Istanbul Film Festival 62th Thessaloniki Film Festival Films Femmes Méditerranée 2021 14th Arab Film Festival Berlin 2022 6th Cairo Cinema Days 2022 2nd Soeurs Jumelles Festival 2022 Triennial of Photography Festival 2022 Lebanese Film Festival Canada 2022 Milwaukee International Film Festival 2022 ANA Contemporary Arab Cinema 2022 16th Mizna Arab Film Festival 2022, awarded Best Narrative Feature by the jury and Best Narrative Feature by the audience Cairo Film Society 2023, awarded Best film Lebanese Movie Awards, awarded Best Lebanese Motion Picture, Best writing, Best editing Murex D’or 2023, awarded Best Film
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