// The Valley
// Liban // 2014
// 134 min // Couleur // 1.77
After a car accident on a lone mountain road, a middle-aged man loses his memory. Drenched in blood, hecontinues to walk along the deserted path. Further down the road, he encounters people with engine trouble and helps them get their car running again. They are reluctant to leave him stranded, so they take him home to their large estate in the Bekaa valley, a place where production is not only agricultural, and a place he may never leave again....
Things don’t have significance, they only have existence.
I was in Ouyoun El Simane, one of Lebanon’s mountaintops, preparing for my previous film, The Mountain. And just like every time I find myself in this place, I was struck by the magnificence of the landscape and its relentless power. On that particular day, however, a feeling of fright, of terror even, insinuated itself. Certainly, the sensation was related to the quasi-glacial majesty of the place, and to my state of mind at the time. Mostly, however, it was as if the state of things in Lebanon, the invariable state of threat in this loaded part of the world, had spread across the mountain heights in an elusive, intangible form.
Strangely, this threat took on its full meaning in this remote, seemingly serene place.
It hovered densely, like a low, looming sky, ready to burst. The Valley came into being on that day, from that forceful sensation. As senseless as it may sound, I heard a car skidding, falling into the void; I saw the blood-drenched man appear, then start walking along the deserted road in the heart of the mountainous landscape, underneath open skies.
Who is this man? Why is he walking on this particular road? Where did he come from? Was he heading for the Bekaa valley? Where is his accent from? Will we ever know? This man has suddenly lost all sense of familiarity, not only with the world around him, with the elements of nature, with other human beings, but with himself as well. By force of circumstance, he becomes nothing more than immediate perceptions, instinct. The remembrance of certain gestures, of the body, of a song’s chorus playing in his head; the anxiety provoked by this blank memory.
In The Valley, the threat unfolds on several levels before exploding. It is present, from the beginning of the film, even before the first images appear. The threat is present, with the bloodied man without a past, of whom we know nothing, and who knows nothing. A threat to himself, but also to the people whom he helps nonetheless. The unknown, the stranger is, as we all know, threatening.
Born in Dakar, Senegal. In addition to making his own films, Ghassan Salhab collaborates on various scenarios in Lebanon and in France, and teaches film in Lebanon. He has directed six feature films: Beyrouth Fantôme, Terra Incognita, The Last Man, 1958, The Mountain, and The Valley — in addition to numerous short films and “videos”, including Everybody know this is nowhere – diptych, Le massacre des innocents – triptych, (Posthume), Narcisse Perdu, My living body My dead body, La Rose de personne, Baalbeck (co-directed with A. Zaatari and M. Soueid), De la séduction (co-directed with N. Khodor), Afrique Fantôme, Après la Mort... In 2010, La Rochelle International Film Festival made a tribute to his films.
He has also published his texts and articles in various magazines, and a book, Fragments du Livre du naufrage (Amers Editions) in 2012.
"We are the eye that belongs to no one but us, an eye provided by Salhab and his collaborators, ever-vigilant for the coming doom that none of these characters, lost in their own private enterprises or the fog of lost memories, are able to prophesy or prepare for."
- José Téodoro // Film Comment, Cinemascope - Prix Fipresci, Festival de Fribourg
"In a striking visual beauty, this film finds its political force in a poetry as desperate as its colors are vibrant and its light radiant, causes the encounter between a man (Carlos Chahine) who returns to him with amnesia after an car accident, and a group of individuals who live together in a big house in the middle of the Bekaa valley [...] in this poisonous atmosphere, paranoid, precariously, that the author exacerbated by a sophisticated work of the sound, an distilling overflowing sensuality, that passes through music, games of crystal overlays, series of textured and colored landscapes, erotic dancing, a strange animal presence ... Manner, disturbing, probably because complex, contradictory, to probe the subconscious of a country whose amnesia is not the lesser of it evils, and in which violence still continues to return. But the expressive power is a sign of the terrible accuracy." - Isabelle Regnier // Le Monde - Compte-rendu Berlinale 2015
"His film is wrapped in an uncommon theatricality : on a desert road, a man has car accident , he is helped by a mysterious group of people [...] Ghassan Salhab places less a narrative than a climate, we plunge into a cinematic world in marge of a country where reigns mess." - Clément Ghys // Libération - Compte-rendu Berlinale 2015
"The Valley is beautiful, powerful, vigorous, at the crossroads of genre cinema and modern cinema, and Salhab is one of the best artists of Arab cinema alongside Elia Suleiman or Tariq Téguia " - Serge Kaganski // Les Inrocks - Compte-rendu La Rochelle 2015
"A stark and atmospheric drama set in a volatile region" - Boyd van Hoeij // Hollywood Reporter
Un grand bravo à David Kremer et à toute son équipe pour Seuls, ensemble, qui remporte un 3ème prix après Traces de Vie et le Festival International de Nancy. Merci au jury présidé par Jean-Paul Rappeneau et composé de Philippe Huet, écrivain, Marie Kremer, comédienne, Henri Labbé, décorateur de cinéma, Rozenn Le Bris, directrice artistique du festival littéraire du Havre, Le Goût des Autres !
We warmly congratulate David Yon, director of The Night and the kid and David Kremer director of Sons of Barents, who win within a few days of each others the Special Jury award at Fronteira Festival for the Night and the kid and Nancy-Lorraine International Festival for Sons of Barents.
De McBride à Joseph Morder
>> Lire le blog
Weekend at the beach...
>> Lire le blog