The President’s Visit
Reviewed by Shawna Charles
Cyril Arissk and Mounia Akl deliver a short film that will have you thinking twice about who you tell your secrets to even when pinky swears and promises seal the deal. Nino owner of the only shop in the seaside village that makes and sells soap to the townsfolk is shocked to receive a call saying the President loves his soap and his coming to make a secret visit. He is advised not to tell anyone about the visit for security concerns. Doomed by everyday routine with finally something to look forward to Nino is too excited to keep the news to himself. He is the first one to break the secret by telling his Uncle David who swears not to breathe a word.
When Nino wakes up the next morning he is confronted with the townsfolk cleaning away garbage with Presidential flags flying and the villagers are dressed in their best clothes. Nino is incensed as he confronts Uncle David for answers and gets none. The entire village is caught up in the excitement and seem to have a new sense of purpose a welcome relief from the humdrum routine of their daily lives. But things quickly fall apart as betrayal, lies, and pride begin to tear at the fabric of their existence.
A blend of drama and comedy I found myself paying close attention to make sure I didn’t miss any of the chaos and laughter available in the approximately 19 minutes it would take this film to complete. I especially enjoyed the cinematography in this film. The close-up shots that framed the face of the characters help depict the emotions involved since I had to utilize the subtitles provided. I would tell you how it ends but that would take away the moments that make this film matter.
The Sultan of Soap, The Conscience Cleaner has deep ties to issues faced by many when desperately seeking hope or the illusion of. Onset in a small village in the country of Lebanon where unrest can lead to muddle one can either choose to laugh or cry when faced with hardships, confusion and “fate”; however, we know often times both are a must for survival. There is a famous saying, “laughter is medicine for the soul” and Soap will cleanse the conscience, maybe?
The President’s Visit is eligible to be considered for a 2019 Oscar.
Director: Cyril Aris
Writer: Cyril Aris, Mounia Akl
Producer: Marc Fadel, Valerie Castillo Martinez
Cinematographer: Joe Saade
Production Design: Issa Kandil
Art Director: Hanady Medlej
Costumes: Lary Bou Safi
Sound Designer: Cedric Kayem
Music: Paul Tyan
Editor Cyril Aris, Mounia Akl