Syrian filmmaker Ziad Kalthoum’s Taste of Cement is a great achievement. His documentary essay follows the destiny of Syrian construction workers building a new Beirut while their own homes are destroyed. Using the contrast of situations that were in reverse not long ago, with war torn Lebanon, Kalthoum creates a gallery of artistic and thoughtful powerful images. The medium of cinema is well served with sharp cinematography by Talal Khoury and highly effective sound design by Ansgar Frerich & Sebastian Tesch (who’s also on scoring duty) whilst its subject’s depth is also mastered all along.

In Taste of Cement, exiled men in captive freedom (they are restrained to their quarters by a curfew and can’t visit the city they help to reshape) are filled with memories, dreams, nightmares exposed in a voiced poetry (Written by Kalthoum with Talal Khoury and Ansgar Frerich) that matches the exquisite visuals. We hear moving stories of the late father who preceded the son on the Lebanese construction sites. The coming home at a time where the country was torn down. The Cement that would still emanates.  A slow kill for the ones left.

In the evening, momentary leaving the skyscraper they are building until the next morning, the Syrian workers go down to their quarters, ironically an underground pit of degrading proportions, and listen to the (sad) news from their homeland. Ziad Kalthoum goes from the lyrical to raw footage of rebel-controlled Syrian zone being methodically  torn to pieces.  Alex Bakri, and Frank Brummundt editing job contrasts all parts in a coherent manner. It creates nightmarish echoes between the cacophony of the working site and the collapsing sound of the homeland.

With its cinematic panache, poetry and full dramatic tenure, Taste of Cement contains all the ingredients of what great films are made of. Powerful stuff.

One of the Best Films of the year.


RIDM Screenings:

Nov. 10 8:00 PM
Cinémathèque québécoise
with English subtitles

Director or crew member in attendance

Nov. 17 7:00 PM
Concordia University –  SGWU (H-110)
with English subtitles

Director or crew member in attendance