Zokak El-Blat
Memories from a Beiruti Neighborhood
زقاق البلاط

نتف من ذاكرة حيّ بيروتي
By Karim Al-Hakim
© 2009 UMAM D&R
Arabic with English subtitles

Zokak El-Blat is a Beiruti neighborhood, which first appeared in the 19th century. It is situated between the areas of Raml Az-Zarif to its west, Al-Bashoura to its east, Al-Museytbeh to its south, and the Riad as-Solh Square to its north. Although the meanings of Zokak (alley) and el-Blat (tile, mansion) are unambiguous, Zokak El-Blat remains confused by its past and present. But unlike many of its Beiruti counterparts, which endured strife and underwent significant transformations in their names, Zokak El-Blat stands apart. Whether in speech or symbolically, its name indicates the mix of identities and languages, and essentially the numerous cultures the neighborhood embraced and sheltered.

Naturally, all of these residents left their traces, which are not restricted to architectural elements. Rather, they are evident primarily in the imprint that persists, such as in languages, smells, and nostalgia. There is indeed rhythm to be found in the human migrations that have characterized and shaped this area, and they provide a lens with which to view Lebanon's own successes and failures.

Karim Al-Hakim captures the essence of these migrations through Zokak El-Blat by recording them in the language and narratives of some of its inhabitants. 

This DVD was part of the What Is to Be Done? Lebanon's War-Loaded Memory initiative and made possible thanks to funding from the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa).

Idea: Karim Al-Hakim & Rawane Nassif
Interviews: Karim Al-Hakim
Camera: Rawane Nassif, Rami Kodeih & Maxime Souville
Sound: Sara Francis
Editing: Anne de Mo
Video Postproduction: Mazen Hashem
Audio Postproduction: B-Root Productions
Graphics: Hisham Salam
Length: 32 min