“My parents arrived in France in 1975, after the outbreak of civil war in Lebanon. Despite the exile, they have always maintained a very strong link with the country. They went back there every year, in the summer or at Christmas, except when the fighting was too intense. I went there for the first time in 1991, at the age of three, a few days after the end of the conflict. Since then, we spend all our summers there to see the family.
When I was 16, I went there alone. At the time, I was beginning to take an interest in Lebanese culture. And at 18, I decided to settle there. It was like a no-brainer for me. I wanted to make films and I wanted to work with Lebanese directors.
This decision worried my parents a lot even though my father never told me anything. I stayed there for eight years but ended up coming back to France after a lot of disappointment and anger. I couldn’t live from my work (writing, photography) and part of me didn’t want to build in a country where war could break out at any time.
“My father always dreamed of ending his life there”
I think I went there because I wanted to bring my parents back to their country. They have always lived with the hope of returning one day. My mother tells me every week that she is going back to live with her mother and her brothers. When I was in my twenties, I wanted to buy an apartment from them in Beirut.
My father always dreamed of ending his life there, of reading Arabic newspapers, of joining his friends at the café. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford it. But today, I tell myself that it is perhaps better that way. With everything that has happened in the country since, this return would not have been very happy.
Myself, I find it very difficult to return there. I went there during the 2019 revolution and right after the port of Beirut explosion. The last time was a month ago for a book fair. I didn’t really want to, but something clicked again at that moment. I saw my uncles, my aunts, my cousins, my cousins with whom I spent part of my life. I realized that my link with Lebanon was first and foremost my family. »