Mazen’s fresco on the lost Beirut youth and their bodies does not shrink from the ultimate nudity, never before represented to that extent in the Arab film, while in a series of incredibly sensual and microscopically precise scenes, they masturbate in the shower and demonstrate their (half-)naked machoism on the beach. The sea is their freedom and their escape. Escape from the poor suburbs where facades are decorated with posters of martyrs. When Hasan’s dive into the sea ends in tragedy, pulling out his body comes across like an orgy of eroticized rugby, an explosion of naked torsos and biceps. Hasan’s friends move his dead body into his home to perform there a ritual washing. Because a drowned shahid must be washed before leaving for Jannah, unlike the one who lost his life in spilt blood. It was the long washing scene that made Lebanon puritans furious. That what is sacred to Arabs the author transformed into the ultimate homoerotic fetish, with water dripping down the plastic tube, and the foam dripping down Hasan’s body. Khaled’s microscopic camera without any restrictions curiously peeks beneath the white cloth covering Hasan’s private parts, closely following the movements of the hands washing the body.
Mazen Khaled was born in Beirut. He spent a portion of his career in the advertising industry. His debut feature film, Martyr, turned out to be the greatest discovery of the last year’s Mostra in Venice, although it was pushed aside to its margins, to the festival’s off program Biennale College.