Beauty in War

By Grace Collins '22, April 6, 2021
Reflections on SKIES OF LEBANON (2020)

Blog posting written by Grace Collins ‘22, Integrated Marketing Communications major with minors in Communication Management and Design and Honors, FLEFF Intern, Clinton, NY. 

Before attending FLEFF, I would mentally put the films I saw into one of two boxes. They were either interesting to watch and told a relatable story, or they were more serious and addressed big issues. 

This week, I watched SKIES OF LEBANON and was delighted to find that, like so many other FLEFF films, it gracefully blended the two. The film provided a beautiful, striking viewing experience that introduced me to a facet of history I previously didn’t know much about. 

SKIES OF LEBANON, director Chloé Mazlo’s first feature film, begins in the 1950s and follows Alice, a young woman from Switzerland, as she moves to Lebanon and falls in love with Joseph, an astrophysicist. We see 20 years of their idyllic life together until unrest surrounds them as the Lebanese Civil War breaks out. The family faces impossible decisions and rising tensions as they work to navigate life as they’ve never known it before. 

This film surprised me at every turn. Just moments into my viewing, the live-action suddenly switched to stop motion animation, a motif that repeated throughout the story. These engaging visual elements, like the animation, bright colors of life in Beirut, and quirky graphics, combined with deep, impactful storytelling to take me on a journey that I couldn’t tear my eyes away from. 

As you meet the cast of characters, you can see pieces of yourself and your loved ones in them, in their daily routines and their relationships. This brings their later struggles to life, despite taking place nearly four decades ago and continents away. 

That concept struck me most after finding out that Alice’s story was largely inspired by the true life of Chloé Mazlo’s grandmother. The stories and people portrayed in the film felt so real because they are.

This led me to come back to the realization that throughout every period in history, there are countless families with beautiful, heartbreaking, and life-changing stories like Alice and Joseph’s. All too many of these people and their stories are lost to history, forever reduced to statistics in textbooks. 

The beauty with which Mazlo portrayed her grandmother’s story makes SKIES OF LEBANON one of those rare films that will stay on my mind for months to come. 

Don’t miss the final week of thought-provoking and inspiring films available for viewing at FLEFF.