Congratulations! The Audi Short Film Award, endowed with € 20,000, enabled by Audi goes to Karam Ghossein and his film »Street of Death«!
He was born in Nabatiye, South Lebanon in 1988, he lives in Beirut. Karam Ghossein studied film and television at the Lebanese University. Since 2006 he has worked on numerous experimental, documentary and fiction short films as well as on TV productions, including as cinematographer on Al Marhala Al Rabiaa (The Fourth Stage) which screened in the 2016 Forum Expanded. His work has been shown at venues including MoMA in New York and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. »Street of Death« is his debut film as a director.
What is your ambition in the film?
With Street of Death, I was interested to probe my own relationship with my past, and to explore, in general, how resonant our relationships are to the mistakes we made and dreams we had for ourselves as adolescents. Your teenage years are when many of your desires are formed, your conceptions of masculinity, power, sexuality. We often assume that we have managed to escape certain aspects of our past – how formative the confines of poverty or the experience of desiring or coveting material wealth are, for example. I also wanted to capture the rawness of life is in these marginalized communities – in the suburbs of Beirut – where I spent my teenage years, to tell the stories of the inhabitants: their way of living, their way of dreaming, their way of negotiating and asserting power, the means by which they can escape. It was very important to capture the particular atmospheric soundscape of that neighborhood: due to its proximity to the airport, you hear the continuous roar of planes taking off and landing, and because of its closeness to the highway, the revving of engines and screeching of tires. But also the sound of gunfire, of street life, of street weddings.
How did you get started in the film business?
I held my first video camera during the Israeli war on Lebanon in 2006. My girlfriend at the time was working for the UN Youth program, and we went to film refugees and displaced persons in the South, which was under heavy bombardment. I started studying film and working in TV soon after. For the past five years, I’ve been working as a cinematographer with various directors in Lebanon.
What are your future plans for 2017?
I am currently developing a feature film. It’s a hybrid documentary set in Germany. I also co-founded a production company in Berlin called Friendly Fire Films, and I hope to be dividing my time between Beirut and Berlin.
Film excerpt from »Street of Death«