In the concrete jungle that is Beirut, Lebanon, the outspoken taxi driver Abu Hussam is doing his best to survive. His dream is to find a roof above his head. Until that day comes, he’ll sleep on the street and drive around the streets of Beirut with smoke pouring from the hood of his car. Beer offers some solace, for a while. He explains why he’s happy in this hectic city: “The chaos suits me because if this country had order, I wouldn’t be able to drink and drive.”
Elsewhere in the city, a runaway Syrian boy named Ali has chosen to live alone on the streets. He loves the sea and his missing friend Azzam, whom he’s waiting for day in and day out. We also meet Samya, a whiskey-drinking woman who’s trying to finance an operation for her almost-blind mother. Just like Abu Hussam and Ali, she’s hoping for better times, and on occasion there’s a flicker of light at the end of the tunnel. Director Sarah Kaskas composed Underdown’s powerful soundtrack as well, which also features music by Lebanese band Kinematik.
- Joe Saade
- Simon El Habre
- Sarah Kaskas
- KARAAJ FILMS
Sarah Kaskas received her MFA in Cinematic Arts in 2011. Her thesis film, FUGUE (2011), toured to several festivals before being sold to BBC Arabic’s ‘Alternative Cinema’. In 2013, her animated short film WANDERLAND won an award at the Co-Production Forum at the Stuttgart International Animation Festival, and was nominated for the Robert Bosch Film Prize in 2014. In 2016, Kaskas co-directed BREAD AND TEA, which was named Best Short Documentary at Iran’s Cinéma Vérité. Her upcoming feature documentary was nominated for the Robert Bosch Film Prize 2017 and received a production grant from Doha Film Institute. She resides in Beirut and is an Assistant Professor of Film at the Lebanese American University. UNDERDOWN is her most recent film presented at IDFA.