Beirut Buenos Aires Beirut – Al Jazeera World – Al Jazeera English

Beirut Buenos Aires Beirut – Al Jazeera World – Al Jazeera English.

Filmmaker: Hernan Belon

Graciela is a 37-year-old Argentinian woman of Lebanese descent living in Buenos Aires. Before her great-aunt died, she told Graciela a family secret.

“Arabs are jealous; they love their land, their origins, they love their birthplace. They may go far away and pretend to forget, but they never forget.”

– Adnan, an Arabic language translator in Argentina

“Her father [Mohammed], Lebanese by birth, did not die in Argentina. He left his family and returned to Lebanon. Angry at his departure, his wife and children cut off communication with him,” Graciela explains.

One of the last things they heard of Mohammed is that he married again and might have had more children in Lebanon.

“My great-aunt gave me a box with letters and photos that she had kept …. Some had never been read. Somebody once said that a letter always arrives at its destination,” Graciela says.

“When I saw the letters, I felt they had been left as a legacy. And I wanted to know more about my family history. Who was Mohammed? Why did he come to live in Argentina? Why did he return to Lebanon? Are there any relatives of mine on the other side of the world?”

“We filmed in the south of Lebanon and needed permission from the Lebanese secret service, army and the authorities of Hezbollah. But when we were there we felt that the people were very nice. They are people like you and me, who are suffering for stupid reasons.”

– Hernan Belon, the filmmaker

Graciela decided to look further into Mohammed’s life and started to retrace his story – from his initial arrival in Buenos Aires and his life in Argentina as an immigrant, to his return to Lebanon.

“I discovered Arab immigrants to Argentina were not as welcome as Europeans. Arab immigration was large, but discreet, because it has always faced intolerance and discrimination,” she says.

In search of Mohammed’s Lebanese family and in order to learn details of Mohammed’s life and her own roots, she travels to Lebanon to trace the threads of a personal story that unfolds as she delves deeper into her family’s past and a different culture.

And finally, after 50 years of separation, she is the catalyst for two families from two different worlds to reunite.

This entry was posted in Cities, History, People, Video by sesshu. Bookmark the permalink.

About sesshu

The woman slapping tortilla shapes makes like the rain hitting the cement floor. I like the smell of charcoal smoke, rotting vegetables and sheet metal rust. I think about it when it's 100 degrees and I'm driving in the desert.

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