Ely Dagher is basically the coolest person in Lebanon right now - possibly ever - in my book.

Out of 4,550 short films submitted to the “2015 Short Films Competition of the Cannes Festival,” the Lebanese writer and director's movie Waves ’98 made it to the final eight and landed a nomination for the prestigious Palme D’or award – the highest prize awarded at the Cannes Film Festival.

The trailer has been released, and it will give you goose bumps.

Just from the short trailer, we can see the tone of the film: one young man’s experience in dealing with the world around him, Lebanese war included. We also see Dagher’s attention to detail, from the Grendizer (a very popular cartoon in the 90’s) poster on the wall in one of the shots to actual news reels footage of war coverage, the scenes transport the audience back to a time when these images were normal, evoking emotional memories.

While creating Waves ’98, thirty-year old Dagher describes himself as living physically in Brussels, but mentally in Beirut; the film became a reflection of that very dichotomy. We had the chance to ask Dagher a couple of questions about his project and nomination:

Beirut.com: While working on this project, did you think it would get nominated?
Dagher: With these types of things, you don’t expect to be nominated; you hope your film gets picked up so that you can have a good audience. There are so many elements that come into the selection process that you can’t control but as far as I was concerned if you give a project a 100% and your confident of your work then good things will come.

Beirut.com: What comes next for you, after this success?
Dagher: It’s still early to tell but I’m slowly developing other projects that have been lingering for a few years.

Beirut.com: In a match to the death between Nadine Labbaki and Ziad Doueiri, who would win?
Dagher: Both offered a lot to Lebanese cinema, they should not be fighting. If I had to choose I’d go with Ziad for “Lila dit ça.”

Beirut.com: What is your favorite Lebanese film?
Dagher:"Terra incognita” and "Je veux voir”.

Beirut.com: If I promise to sell off complete ownership of my image to you for the rest of my life, will you turn me into an animated character like Robin Wright in The Congress?
Dagher: I haven’t seen The Congress.

We should note the last Lebanese movie to be in a similar position was Maroun Baghdadi’s 1991 film, "Hors La Vie" (Out Of Life), which told the story of a French photographer taken hostage during the Lebanese civil war.

Congratulations to Ely, and may this event motivate all the creative Lebanese minds to persevere and keep at their talents.


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