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The Ugly One

Eric Baudelaire

Lebanon, , 2013
101 minutes, Colour, 5.1 Surround, 1:1.39
Original format: HD video
Available formats: HD Digital file / DCP

Winter, Beirut. On a beach littered with cans washed up from the sea, Lili and Michel meet. Or perhaps they know each other from before… As they struggle to piece together the fragments of an uncertain past, memories emerge: an act of terrorism, an explosion and the disappearance of a child, Elena. Woven throughout these fragments is the deep voice of a Japanese narrator who recounts his own experience of a weeping Beirut, and his 27 clandestine years fighting alongside the Palestinians as a member of the Japanese Red Army. His voiceover shapes Michel and Lili’s story, their fate dictated by the enigma created for them by this narrator who turns out to be legendary Japanese New Wave filmmaker Masao Adachi. Adachi, screenwriter for Nagisa Oshima and Kôji Wakamatsu, and former member of the Japanese Red Army terrorist organisation, had not been commissioned to write an original screenplay since 1972. Pursuing a collaboration that began with the 2011 documentary The Anabasis of May and Fusako Shigenobu, Masao Adachi and 27 Years Without Images, Baudelaire asked Adachi to write a script for a second film, a fiction, exploring many of the same issues. Commissioning this screenplay inverted the dynamics of Baudelaire and Adachi’s collaboration. The Anabasis… explored the itinerary of its protagonists between cinema and terrorism by opening fictional and subjective spaces within a documentary form. The Ugly One, a second chapter that mirrors the first, explores the biographical and documentary possibilities of a fiction film.