New film directed by Areej Mahmoud and produced by Stoked shows the haunting fates of families living through conflict
To coincide with the International Day of the Disappeared, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Stoked release a poignant short film, ‘The Waiting’, which chronicles the haunting emotions felt when family members disappear as a result of civil war and conflict.
Directed by globally-awarded ECD, Areej Mahmoud, ‘The Waiting’ opens on a family scene, a mother and two children, waiting in a living room, in the midst of the Lebanon Civil War during the 1980s. Tension builds as the mother looks worryingly at the door. ‘He’s Late’, she says. As she looks back to her newspaper, the scene begins to subtly change. Days, weeks and seasons flicker by. As the years pass, the family age but they remain frozen, waiting for their father who never returned. During the film a silence reigns over the family, where the presence of absence is duly noted with careful sound design.
Stoked worked closely with Mahmoud to develop the ‘time capsule’ concept for the film and execute its production.
“We were actually briefed by the ICRC on two different topics. We found ‘waiting’ was a subject that hit close to home for all of us. Based in Beirut ourselves, we all know a family that is missing someone and has never had closure on the matter. At the height of the Lebanon Civil War, people from different social classes and religions started to disappear and, still today, thousands of people don’t know the fate of their beloved. They live in that frozen tragic hope,” explains Executive Producer and Co-Founder of Stoked, Charbel Aouad.
Veteran casting director, Najat Adem, was brought on specially to tackle the many cast members needed to pull off an authentic ageing process for the family.
“Najat did an amazing job. It was crucial that the family members not only looked alike but were great actors, as the story is told through very delicate facial expressions. Where the dialogue is so light, viewers had to be able to pick up on and relate to subtle emotional cues,” adds Charbel.
The passage of time is also reflected in the lighting of the scene and acute attention to detail in the art direction and wardrobe. DOP, Pol Orpinell, had to develop a system in which each frame would correspond to a specific time of day and a specific year in order for the changes to look real.
Charbel comments: “The team we put together couldn’t be more passionate and meticulous in their approach. We had to match details of how a typical Lebanese house would change over 40 years, as well as serving the concept which would strip colour and ornaments one frame at a time. It was no picnic for our AD, Reine Sili, who had to factor in every grey hair and wrinkle along with the changing cast and changing art direction and wardrobe!”
The film will coincide with a special conference, hosted by the ICRC in Beirut on 30th August.
Production Company: Stoked
Director: Areej Mahmoud
Executive Producers: Charbel Aouad, Rita El Hachem
Makeup Artist: Joanna Kamar
Hair Stylist: Jack Avessian
Director of Photography: Pol Orpinell
Wardrobe: Ramy Hajj
Assistant Director: Reine Sili
Line Producer: Danny Saneh