Dieter Wieczorek
Wieczorek is a film critic and regular contributor to Modern Times Review.

REFUGEE LIFE: Syrian refugees are rebuilding the Middle East while they wait to return home.

Taste Of Cement

Ziad Kalthoum


The 2017 edition of the Swiss film festival “Visions du Réel” in Nyon was the last to be helmed by director Luciano Barisone. This edition of the festival has confirmed, once again, that one of its main objectives is to give marginalized, abandoned, and often helpless people a chance to be seen and respected. Disconnected individuals with restricted means of communication or social comfort, who find themselves neglected by the outside world, are offered an international platform from which to reaffirm their existence. This year, Ziad Kalthoum’s astonishing Taste of Cement won the award for best feature length documentary.

Intimate and grand. Ziad Kalthoum’s award-winning documentary Taste of Cement is an audio-visual masterpiece which neatly incorporates all of these conditions. Talal Khoury’s camera rests on silent, motionless, introverted, exhausted and hopeless faces of its subjects. He effortlessly shifts from meditative, detailed images to surprising panoramas from soaring perspectives; as is the case with the opening scene, where a narrow view of the structures of a quarry open up to an overwhelming view of Beirut city.

The soundtrack is a sublime composition of noise and silence. Often completely independent of the visuals, the sound mostly refers to a huge site where the construction of Beirut’s tallest skyscraper is underway.

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