Ghassan Halwani was born in 1979 in Beirut, where he lives and works. He studied at Université Saint-Joseph in Beirut and the Université Paris VIII. After his first animated short film Jibraltar (2005) he collaborated with several Lebanese and other Arab artists, publishers, musicians and film and theatre makers: e.g. Khalil Joreige and Joanna Hadjithomas on Lebanese Rocket Society (2012), with theatre maker and artist Rabih Mroué or with the Palestinian musician Tamer Abu Ghazaleh. His first feature film Erased, _ Ascent of the Invisible premiered in 2018. Alongside his artistic work, he is a political activist and works on an archive to record the people missing following the civil war in Lebanon.
Mansion is a formerly abandoned, early twentieth-century 800 meter-square villa in Zuqaq al-Blat, Beirut, that since 2012 has slowly transformed into a shared initiative and space, conscientiously maintained by its inhabitants and visitors.
Erased, _ Ascent of the Invisible
Director, production: Ghassan Halwani
Cinematography: Ghassan Halwani, Inka Dewitz, Joan Chaker, Carine Doumit
Animation: Ghassan Halwani
Editing: Vartan Avakian
The Lebanese war lasted from 1975 to 1990 and cost the lives of 250,000 people. An unknown number are still missing. Estimates vary from 2,000 to ten times that number, but following the introduction of a general amnesty, the authorities are unwilling to carry out any further investigation. Someone who is willing to do exactly that is filmmaker Ghassan Halwani. In Erased, _ Ascent of the Invisible, his documentary debut, he digs into old archives, inspects photographs and makes meticulous drawings of people. He peels back the recent history of Lebanon layer by layer—sometimes literally, such as when he scrapes posters from a wall to expose the photographs of missing persons hidden underneath.
Halwani is like an archaeologist of the nation’s soul. With an almost meditative level of concentration, he sheds light on a past that many would like to leave in darkness, even though its legacy lingers on. More importantly still, he makes the missing visible. Because their death has never been declared, they have become immortal, but also seem to have never existed.
Beirut: the last available lies
Ghassan Halwani reflecting on different practices in regional activism and so-called international art and on what is hidden behind the surfaces, for example the history of thousands of people missing in Lebanon after the Civil War.