“Sage” is the title of 7:30 minutes short movie produced by Bidayyat and directed by Hani Mawed that tells the story of “the consecutive expulsions and displacements (in Arabic: Al Nakba — The catastrophe) that the Syrian Palestinians have suffered from in their lives, the latest being the expulsion from Syria” according to the words of the movie’s description here.
The short movie takes place in Lebanon, somewhere by the sea, with no direct reference to the time which does not affect the narrative of the context anyway. Lebanon, the new transit-exile which is described by the main character Abu Al Tayeb as: “I lived in Lebanon for a long period once before, I cant say I “lived” as I was member of the Palestinian resistance for more than fifteen years”
Abu Al Tayeb who stands by the sea of Lebanon smoking a cigarette and recalling his days as a resistance fighter is one main character, a man in his 50s, the post-Nakba generation, a generation that had to live in the stories of their parents about Palestine and at the same time survive the camps of the exile “Syria”, a generation that could n’t achieve “I feel like we lost without achieving anything”. The type of Palestinian who never walked weightless, thats Abu Al Tayeb.
The director use a chess board as a recurring theme where the sole two characters of the movie face to talk, Abu Al Tayeb and his son keeps the chess stones moving all long the movie while exchanging questions and answers or more accurately predictions about the future and Syria. The chess which had no choice of where to go and how to move, the helpless, the stolen well and the unknown, the transit and the motion. The title “Sage” refers to a traditional herb Palestinian always used and adored to flavor their tea, only the “Sage” remains the companion and the mate throughout all the consecutive expulsions.
At the beginning of the movie, Hani uses dialogue between Abu Al Tayeb and his son as a narrative technique, laying the foundation of his story, “So when we get there wont we be coming back to Syria” the boy asks his father, “we settle down for the rest of our life, there” no precise “there” Hani gave, leaving the endings as open as the destiny of the Palestinian and also the Syrian.
The movie did not tell about Abu Al Tayeb’s final destination, we were told during the chess board game that from Beirut he is expecting a visa to Libya to where they will leave by the sea but nothing more, the trip seems to be long as the son asks his father at the beginning of the movie “What are the chances of coming back to Syria?” but no answer, only darkness and a cup of tea with a lot of sage. Very Palestinian.