On Wednesday 11th of August, the creators of “General Suleiman” 's music video gathered at the Electro Mecanique Chill in Mar Mikhaël for the first screening of their achievement. The music video was directed by Gigi Roccati, produced by Merass Sadek, and the music composed by Zeid Hamdan.
“ In May 2008, I was in Guinea… And then the day after my arrival someone said to me ‘ dude, there’s a war in your country! ” said Zeid Hamdan. In Lebanon clashes erupted between Hezbollah’s militants and militants loyal to the majority. The fights in Beirut’s streets and in several villages of the Druze mountain were bloody affairs. Lebanon seemed to be reliving scenes from the civil war (from 1975 till 1990). Zeid Hamdan intermittently received news from websites, “besides, they exaggerate“ added the artist. From Africa, he quickly wrote the song “General Suleiman”. At the time, the general Michel Suleiman was the chief of the Lebanese army and he was already expected to become the next President of the Republic of Lebanon (he was eventually elected in June 2008, shortly after the clashes). “The song was created like a dream” said Hamdan who explained that for him Michel Suleiman “was a neutral candidate who offered hope of putting an end to the war, but this was paradoxical because he’s a soldier”.
A few months later in Turin, the Italian director Gigi Roccati who has been a fan of Zeid Hamdan for several years heard his song. Seduced by it, Roccati suggested that the artist turn the song into a music video. “It often happens that I get this kind of proposal, but it was never put into actions; I was surprised” said Zeid. The music video’s team agreed quickly on the idea they shall adopt: “we wanted to do something different from the huge budget videos we see on Rotana or Melody Hits” explained Merass Sadek, the producer.
A technical success
Target met: a two-seater Smart, a reflector, a tripod, a telephone, and a 5D Mark 2 digital Canon, these were the equipments. The three minutes music video is a tiny gem. Made in twelve days of shooting, with the participation of eighty extras, General Suleiman “captured the essence of coolness” as said by an enthusiastic spectator when he was leaving. The project was therefore materially ambitious: zero budget, images captured with the camera... However, the quality of “General Suleiman” is remarkable.
It begins with kids playing football in Dahye, then appear dancers, businessmen, teenagers, groups of friends, and bodybuilders as well. Sandwiched between these portraits, details of Beirut and especially Gemmayzeh, a bronzed bodybuilder wearing a sailor hat and breakdancing, a doll with a pink keffiyeh,…
A generation’s portrait
Some might consider that the music video and the song are naive with its dub reggae rhythm, and lyrics like "all the militian: go home! " and " put your weapons down”. Responding to the party poopers, Gigi quoted Bob Marley: “Music hits you, but you feel no pain”. He believes that the simplicity of pop music can convey messages more directly and more broadly. As for the sweet and simple aesthetic of the music video,” revolution comes fom beauty“ retorted Gigi Roccati. A real subtlety is hidden behind these hedonistic images. Merass, Gigi and Zeid agreed on presenting a generation’s portrait in its diversity and particularities. Zeid Hamdan silenced the exegesis: "this song, I wanted it to be ambiguous, it means nothing, and everything…"