Jocelyne Saab: A Just Life

Filmmaker, Journalist, Photographer, Fighter for Justice Dies at 70
By 
Al Jadid Staff
From left to right: photograph of Jocelyne Saab from Getty Images, Saab aboard the Atlantis, courtesy of The National, and Saab filming in front of her burnt home in Beirut after Israel’s invasion, courtesy of The National.
 
Jocelyne Saab belonged to a generation of Lebanese filmmakers and artists, often described as progressive and leftist, that emerged before, during, and after the Lebanese Civil War. A contemporary of directors like Burhan Alawia, John Chamoun, Maroun Baghdadi, Nahla al-Shahal, young progressive directors of the time, Saab shared their commitment to social justice, basic reforms in the pre-1975 Lebanese political system, and a commitment to defending the rights of Palestinians both within Lebanon and supporting their struggle against Israeli occupation. This group, along with other Lebanese artists and writers, wielded cameras and pens as weapons.
 
Saab, whose work exposed the brutal realities of war and human suffering, passed away early January. Throughout her life she contributed vastly to war reportage as well as creatively through her art and fiction films.
 
In an interview with Qantara, Saab quoted André Breton, a French poet and founder of Surrealism: ‘“The biggest surrealistic act is to shit in a place and then leave it and go." And I thought that Beirut was so symbolic of this… You make war, and war is what – shit, in a way. And then you leave. And you leave the city by herself to deal with this act.” But Jocelyne Saab had never left -- always, she remained with Lebanon through her films, photography, and memory.
 
These are edited excerpts from a major feature scheduled to appear in the forthcoming issue of Al Jadid, Vol. 23, No. 76, 2019.
 
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