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Sabah Haider


Beirut Solo

Sabine Sidawi
Production Company: Orjouane Productions

Project Logline:

Yassa, a Sri Lankan maid, has loyally worked in Beirut for Madame for 15 years, to support her mother and now teenage son back home. For years she has secretly saved money to give her son a university education. Her world changes when she meets Raj, an educated Bangladeshi man and aspiring writer, who lives in a Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut. Living on an expired tourist visa, Raj works illegally as a janitor, while looking for a job as a writer. They fall in love, despite Madame’s objection, and Raj pushes Yassa to change her life and job to get married. Blinded by love, she listens to him and must navigate through a dysfunctional and racist Lebanese society to find work. Eventually she does, and the couple marries. Soon after, the police stop a passenger van to check IDs and arrest Raj who refuses to show his passport. Yassa is devastated and learns the only way Raj can stay is if he has a residence permit, which costs thousands of dollars. Divided between her love for Raj and her son’s future, Yassa is overwhelmed. Unwilling to sacrifice her son’s education, she tells Raj she doesn’t have any money. He is deported, leaving Yassa alone again.

Sabah Haider is a filmmaker and journalist based in Beirut, Lebanon. She has an MA in Film Studies from University College London, UK, and a BA in Political Science from the University of Guelph in Canada. Haider has made four short films including Abu Rami (Lebanon, 2012) which participated in several international festivals . She is currently in development for her first feature film Beirut Solo, which was awarded the DIFF Film Clinic Debut Feature award at the 2012 Dubai International Film Festival. Sabah has taught courses in Screenwriting, Arab Cinema, Journalism and Writing at the American University in Dubai and American University of Sharjah. Between 2009 and 2011 she also developed and ran film and art workshops for Palestinian children and youth in refugee camps in Lebanon and Palestine. Sabah is pursuing a PhD in Social Anthropology and Ethnology at the l'École des hautes études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris, France.