If you have time on the morning of Monday, May 4th at 11:30 AM, then drop into the Isabel Bader Theatre (93 Charles St) and buy a ticket to ONE MAN VILLAGE. This will be you last chance to see the Lebanese doc about Semaan El Harbe at Hot Docs. Director, Simon El Habre (Semaan's nephew) tells a simple story, revealing the complexities one by one as the film unfolds.
Semaan is the only resident of a village that used to be inhabited by 45 families (civil war drove the residents to Beiruit). Tired of the crowds and pollution of the city life, Semaan returns to Ain el-Halazoun where he lives very contentedly with his cows--I liked Rabiaa, the Stubburn. There is snow on the ground when we first meet Semaan, and the morning sounds of the animals and the dark, cold morning was enough to make want to run to my corner coffee shop.
As the film progresses, we move from the silence of Semaan's solitude into the history of the village, and come to the realization that he is never really alone. Semaan lives with the past in the form of the ruined houses and land of people he knew. Every time he delivers milk, he passes by these invisible people. From time to time he is visited by relatives and old neighbours who come back to see him and to cultivate the land. The village's beauty is revealed as the temparatures warm, but we can't help but feel a twinge of loss ourselves, not for Semaan, but in the knowledge that eventually the village will die.
Click Here to buy tickets to The One Man Village.
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Photo Courtesy of Hot Docs