Perspectives Film Festival, the student-led film festival, is back again in 2023 for its 15th anniversary. This year, the festival opened with a screening of Memory Box (2021) directed by Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige. Congruent to the festival’s theme – It’s Time… – Memory Box explores the idea of travelling back in time through the retelling of past memories.
In the film, Alex discovers her mother, Maia’s old memory box containing diaries with photographs and audio tape recordings documenting the Lebanese Civil War. Through the visual and auditory journey that Alex takes, she uncovers her mother’s past where Maia explored love as a teen and how she grappled with the destruction of her hometown and eventually, the death of her father.
Memory Box takes the audience along in an immersive experience where Maia’s memories are being reenacted by piecing images together and overlaying them with the narration from the tape recordings. This gave more depth to the movie as we were able to uncover Maia’s memory through Alex’s point-of-view, through the way she visualises her mother’s images coming to life as opposed to just watching flashback scenes. This mode of storytelling engages the audience better as we are put in Alex’s shoes rather than being a mere spectator.
The film’s clever way of storytelling sought not only to reveal Maia’s past memories but it also has an added function of informing the audience about the experiences that the victims faced in the Lebanese Civil War. While Maia’s memories captured the fun that she had in the youth, it also highlighted how the effects of the war had deprived her of a conventional teenage experience.The film highlights the suffering that the people of Lebanon had to face through a combination of pleasant and unpleasant memories as a teenager experiencing a civil war. All in all, Memory Box was enjoyable to watch while cleverly allowing me to gain insights of the people who lived in the time of the Lebanese Civil War in the form of a narrative. I cannot wait to see what Perspectives Film Festival has in store next year!