Directed By: Ely Dagher
Starring: Elie Bassila
Premiere: This short premiered at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival
Trivia: Won Best Animated Short Film at the 2015 Chicago International Film Festival
Winner of the Palme d’Or for Best Short Film at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, Waves ’98 is an animated biopic of sorts, detailing the early life of its director Ely Dagher and the memories he harbors of his hometown city of Beirut, which he recalls with both fondness and disdain.
It’s the late 1990s, and Omar (voiced by Elie Bassila), a teenager living in the suburbs of Beirut, is weary of his mundane existence (a continuous loop of schoolwork and television). To pass the time, he sits on the roof of his house and stares out over the city (a place that, though he has grown up so close to it, he barely knows). Then, one day, Omar spots a beam of light coming from the center of town and decides to investigate. The resulting discovery will change his perception of Beirut, and provide him with experiences that will stay with him forever.
Serving as the writer, director, animator, and editor of Waves ‘98, Ely Dagher has created a very personal work that relies on both fantasy (Omar finds that the light he saw was coming from a large golden statue, which, by all appearances, is floating in mid-air above the city) and reality (inserted into the middle of this animated world are video images from the nightly news, as well as real-life footage of the Beirut skyline) to tell its story, creating in the process a unique and imaginative motion picture of apathy and adventure, both of which have had their impact on the man it’s maker has become.