TorinoFilmLab - Training, development, Funding


I Am Here But You Can't See me

Feyrouz Serhal, Oualid Mouaness



In the city of Beirut there lives Viola, a singer who seems to have busy days away from her singing career.

One day she wakes up to find that the city is in revolt. From her kitchen window she sees a big demonstration in the street. Hastily she leaves and joins the group. She is there against the flood of people to listen and inspect.

Prior to that and from the very beginning of the film, Farah, a man who is always in his car roaming the city searching for a friend has noticed her. From that moment on she seems to constantly haunt his field of vision, but alas she always unknowingly eludes him like a mirage. He becomes aware of her as she becomes ubiquitous to him. However, through all their crossing paths, he remains invisible and unnoticed by her.

Viola drives back and forth on the same highways. A bombing resounds. A politician dies. People live. Another day. Another bombing resounds. Another politician dies. With every explosion the city is more alive.

Another explosion rocks the city. Farah and Viola are in the same space. Their first eye contact happens. She smiles. Another politician is dead.


I Am Here But You Can’t See Me is primarily about my movement in this world. The movement that is innately incorporated in each living being is enhanced and challenged here by barriers; all kinds. It is also about the fictitious movement of the people I grew up with and about a marvel city that is based on Beirut.

Movement is change and this film is about change; change as a means not just for survival but for life and what life stands for in its real sense. It is thus about a revolution. A revolution braver than most, one that lies beneath the surface in its aggression as it kills with unnerving calm: for light, for life.

Although it looks like one, I Am Here But You Can’t See Me is not a slice of life, it is rather a film with a city that is armed with citizens conspiring in silence against those who threaten its movement, its life; a city that is intelligently, calmly and aggressively saying NO and celebrating the outcome.

It is not about conveying messages and setting examples, it is not about punishments and sentences, it is simply a film that moves in lines and layers that intersect at all times, a film with no climaxes, except in concrete sound when an explosion bursts; a film with no reactions as all citizens either know what is happening or are distant in their inner world.

I will create this film as a microcosm of a surreal mechanical world that relays something truly human: One’s bravery to act on the impulsive desire to realize what to others might only remain imagined. It is as simple and as complicated as a child’s logic confronted by the danger of stopping him from living, it expresses the innate desire of that child to play freely with all the elements of life and death.

Viola moves to catch the city of her dreams. Farah moves to catch Viola. And along their quest this film moves too, to tell of little things, of repetitions. I Am Here But You Can’t See Me is about details, about little pulses, about tunes and smiles; many... Its aggressiveness is toned down by eye contact, the sweetness of humanity and the paradoxes of life.

This film will speak my mind and express the hybrid world I live in, one that is within me. It will be like a fable like a poem, taking its ingredients from reality and then shooting out to the stars. It is soft with contrasting colors, present with a dreamy mood. The peculiar city of this film sings and films, it also establishes eye contact with the audience as a tool for a revolution; as the camera looks and gazes, the people of the city look and gaze back. Their gazes reassure us that they all know they are being filmed, that they are being watched; consequently they drag the audience to conspire with them in their mission to their salvation.

distribution & sales

Upon first reading Feyrouz’s simple premise for her story, I wanted to be both characters. I wanted to be privy to the senses of the city she is aiming to render. A person becomes so much a part of a city that he or she essentially becomes a living organ inside of it. The person and the city become codependent. They drive each other. They are the same engine that grinds daily. They are one. They are lovers. They are complete strangers curious to know and explore each other. In this case, the city is Beirut out of whose normalcy emerges occasional bouts of violence that serve to viscerally jostle its inhabitants, who only embed themselves deeper into it for fear of losing it. The actions of this story’s characters are motivated by their desire to ultimately protect their city at whatever cost. Something few people are brave enough to do. This film expresses something that has not been expressed before in a Lebanese context and it does so bluntly. This project is set up primarily through Roummana (Beirut) in partnership with Tricycle Logic (Beirut). Roummana is the brainchild of Feyrouz Serhal, whereby the intention is to create smart art and message driven films with a specific market sense for return. I Am Here… is a film that is small in its scope though big in its revolutionary message. Roummana propels itself from the ideology that film has the power to be revolutionary, artistic and accessible at the same time. I function as an independent producer through Tricycle Logic and gravitate towards projects that ultimately have an art and story sense. When I encounter subject matter that I like, I guide it towards a simple narrative that has the potential to have profound impact. I Am Here… can be exactly that. The project is currently at the first draft stage. So far, both Roummana and Tricycle have funded the development startup. We will be seeking additional development funding through Middle Eastern and European grant programs. The first exposure for this project has been through Interchange at the treatment stage. Armed with a first draft by the year’s end, we will look to participate in co-production markets in 2013 and engage partners for co-production from France and potentially other European countries, and in doing so, capitalize on the official co-production agreements in place with Lebanon. With that in mind and the specific nature of our film’s scope and audience, its budget will not exceed 1M USD. I would like this to be an accessible film as I believe that films should be made with a certain public in mind. This film expresses a frustration that every person from a country or place that has been ravaged by instability should be able to relate to and that is of paramount importance. The aim of this film is to reach an educated, young to middle-aged demographic who can relate to themes of disenfranchisement and alienation from socio-political systems that have let them down. This audience rarely sees itself represented on the big screen. We look to hit the right impulses and produce a film with international market potential that can pull in a more expanded audience that wants to see its yearning for change translated onto the big screen.

Once upon a time in a film there was a city called Beirut, in that city Viola lived, she sang songs and killed politicians.
Feyrouz Serhal

Scriptwriter, Film Director

Oualid Mouaness


production notes

directed by
Feyrouz Serhal

produced byRoummana
Luca’s House

Khalil Badawi St

Mar Mkhael

in co-production with
Seeking co-producers

total production budget
€ 850.000

current financial need
€ 850.000