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Skies of Lebanon

Celebrated animator Chloé Mazlo makes her feature debut with
this strikingly original film inspired by her family’s life in the
years leading into the Lebanese Civil War. We begin in the 1950s
with Alice, a young Swiss woman eager to escape her strait-laced
home in the Alps by becoming a nanny in Beirut. She soon falls
in love with Joseph, a local astrophysicist dreaming of putting
the first Lebanese national on the moon. As the lovers marry and
start a family, Mazlo combines meticulously designed live action
sequences with the occasional offbeat stop motion scene to create
an irresistible picture of the glory days when Beirut was known
as “the Paris of the Middle East.” Unfortunately, the civil war soon
sucks the joy out of Alice and Joseph’s relationship. Yet Mazlo seeks
neither to elicit pity nor to edify: her considerable achievement
here is to convey the quotidian strain of life during wartime while
maintaining a nearly bubbly tone through her attention to detail,
distinctive compositions, inventive approach to character, and
obvious fondness for eccentrics. Far from denying the horror of
kidnappings, army raids, and forced exile, Mazlo underlines the
tragedy by contrasting these hardships with the exuberance of a
place and society that exudes love of life.

Cannes Critics Week 2020