85' 2017 Germany, Syria, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, Qatar director: Ziad Kalthoum cinematography: Talal Khoury editing: Alex Bakri, Frank Brummund production: Bidayyat for Audiovisual Arts, BASIS BERLIN Filmproduktion
The protagonists in Ziad Kalthoum’s film are Syrian workers building a giant skyscraper in Beirut. The working conditions are difficult, and no one is allowed to leave the construction site, which has become their temporary home, after 7:00 p.m. While they are constructing yet another skyscraper in the Lebanese capital, their homes in Syria are being destroyed by bombs. Indeed, “Taste of Cement” is primarily a story about war. The cement dust that the workers are constantly inhaling evokes terrifying memories of cities reduced to ruins, blood and death. The Syrian director skillfully juxtaposes images: the arm of a gigantic crane like a cannon barrel pointing at the center of the city, the roar of bulldozers bringing to mind tanks, a jackhammer banging out a rhythm reminiscent of a volley of rifle fire. The ruins of Aleppo and breathtaking panoramas of Beirut: in Kalthoum's dreamy, visually stunning film, the two are interwoven and merge together, while at the same time providing hope: just like in Lebanon, the Syrian war will eventually come to an end.