A door slams shut startling the audience as it descends into the dark, dank former bomb shelter; members with flashlights help those without them sort through haphazardly placed, uncomfortable furniture, and then discover together the next stages of the installation, navigating through corridors, and rummaging through objects from the shelter bag. The organizers play greatly with darkness and tiny sources of light, minimizing the use of ushers or guides. This is the setting in which the screening of "Shelter", an immersive documentary and installation piece about Lebanon's bomb shelters directed by Tamara Qiblawi and produced by Knooz Room with the support of Heinrich Boell Foundation, took place.
It has been held in public from May 21 to May 24, 2015 in a former bomb shelter in Beirut.
Following the film screenings, audience members were invited to come up and share their own experiences of sheltering during the war years.
"Shelter" is a Beirut-based project that integrates a documentary on Bomb Shelters with space (a former bomb shelter). An audience-powered performance in the two-room shelter blurs lines between memory and the present, between image and physical surroundings in order to unearth a people's history of Lebanon's wars.
At our first immersive screening, Projections, performance and audience participation infuses dynamism into the film's subject matter and helps to answer the age old question: what happens when the authority of the state breaks down? Do we descend into the beastial states posited by Hobbes, or do we get into communities, making bigger individual sacrifices than ever before (à la Rousseau). The Lebanese experience's focus of the film is meant to inform the debate, while the installation brings it into more universal dimensions.
Click below to listen to the stories of sheltering of our attendees…
Watch the trailer of Shelter here