“Panoptic,” the ambitious documentary debut of Lebanese sound designer Rana Eid, arrives at its Dubai competition berth after a world premiere at the 2017 Locarno Film Festival and a First Lights kudo from the Jihlava Film Festival in the Czech Republic. A new take on the genre of city symphony/documentary essay, Eid’s film offers a complex and poetic inquiry into Beirut’s underground and the roots of conflict in her country.
Eid started writing with the locations and general concept in mind, but the structure of the film suggested itself during editing. She says, “It is at that stage that I realized that an essay documentary will resemble more the mood I wanted to have, this trip into the core of Beirut and my own memories.”
After working as a sound editor and sound designer for compatriot filmmakers including Ghassan Salhab, Vatche Boulghourjian, Khalil Joreige, Joana Hadjithomas and Philippe Aractangi, Eid at first thought she would make a radio documentary, but ultimately realized that a film would be more accessible. She says, “When I went to all the locations, the sound of each place helped to film it and to know where to put the camera, and to know the architecture and acoustics details of the places.”
During post-production, Eid edited the sounds before the images, and this established the rhythm of the film. She says, “For me, sound is the identity of the image, and the soundtrack of this film is its identity.”
While she keeps busy with db Studios, a facility for audio post-production that she founded, and teaching sound at the University Saint Esprit de Kaslik, Eid is slowly developing plans for her next documentary. She says, “This time it will be above the ground, but I will continue to try to understand more and more Beirut, this city that I love.”