14A. Dir: Joana Hadjithomas, Khalil Joreigem, Canada, 2022, 102 min. Rim Turki, Manal Issa, Paloma Vauthier, Clemence Sabbagh, Hassan Akil. In French with English subtitles

“The past is an emotional minefield for three generations of women in Memory Box. Freely adapted from elements of co-director Joana Hadjithomas’s life, the film overcomes a conventional set-up to blossom into an imaginative and touching evocation of her Beirut adolescence in the 1980s… It begins in snowbound Montreal. Fifteen year-old Alex is marooned at home waiting for the return of her mother Maia… Her grandmother Teta is preparing food for the holiday season. ‘You can judge a man by how he eats vine leaves,’ is among the wisdom she dispenses. A large box is delivered from the estate of Maia’s childhood friend Liza. Alex cannot resist exploring the contents of the box. She discovers a treasure trove of notebooks, letters, photographs, contact sheets and audio tapes that the young Maia in Lebanon sent to her friend in France… Split screen, sharply-cut montage sequences and dramatised recreations are celeverly combined to convey a vivid portrait of a young woman eager to embrace life and find romance. The soundtrack is suitably evocative as it ranges from Blondie to Visage and Killing Joke. The handsome, brooding Raja is her first love and their times together have a giddy, appealing, fairground-ride energy. Once Beirut becomes a more dangerous city with power cuts, gun fire and bombings, Maia’s dispatches grow more poignant… As truths are shared, revelations uncovered and reunions achieved, Memory Box becomes a warming tale of truth and reconciliation.”  —Allan Hunter, Screen Daily