The Lebanese war lasted from 1975 to 1990 and cost the lives of 250,000 people. An unknown number are still missing. Estimates vary from 2,000 to 10 times that number, but following the introduction of a general amnesty, the authorities are unwilling to carry out any further investigation. Someone who's willing to do exactly that is filmmaker Ghassan Halwani. In Erased,___ Ascent of the Invisible, his documentary debut, he digs into old archives, inspects photographs and makes meticulous drawings of people. He peels back the recent history of Lebanon layer by layer—sometimes literally, such as when he scrapes posters from a wall to expose the photographs of missing persons hidden underneath.
Halwani is like an archaeologist of the nation's soul. With an almost meditative level of concentration, he sheds light on a past that many would like to leave in darkness, even though its legacy lingers on. More importantly still, he makes the missing visible. Because their death has never been declared, they have become immortal, but also seem to have never existed.