The Perfect Picture

Hala El Kouch, Nanor Baghdassarian and Michel Labaky | Lebanon | 2020 | 31 mins

The Perfect Picture Synopsis

Can a single traumatic event be the fatal blow that disrupts the notion of an ideal family? Lebanese filmmaker Hala El Kouch creates a therapy session setting to confront her parents about a traumatic event, and interrogates them over the course of five days. But the moment that “changed everything” for her seems to have made far less impact on her parents.

The conversation takes an unexpected turn. A stream of images, family videos, and photographs from the family album paint a picture of perfect domestic bliss. And during the reenactment, too, Hala’s parents behave in a loving and amiable way towards each other and their daughter.

In an otherwise empty room that sometimes contains a sofa and sometimes chairs, the three of them amuse themselves by making faces at one another, combing each other’s hair, and sharing kisses.

Hala nonetheless maintains that this perfect picture has been tainted, and that she no longer trusts her parents. Every so often she bursts into tears.

What is it precisely that makes that picture perfect? And has the happy family been irrevocably damaged by the incident, or is it Hala who caused the stir?

About the Filmmakers

Hala El Kouch is an award winning film director and photographer. But she is also an editor, voice over artist and writer. She grew up in Nigeria, then moved to Lebanon for her studies in 2008. With a Bachelors’ in audiovisual and Masters’ in film directing from the Lebanese University of Fine Arts, she graduated in both with distinction.

She directed more than 6 short films, one of which Fishing out of the sea won several first- place awards in international film festivals and her recent documentary “The Perfect Picture” that took part of various prestigious documentary film festivals such as IDFA, HOTDOCS, is currently streaming on ARGO and still touring worldwide.

Soon to publish her first book, pursue her PhD and working on her first feature film: Hala is a multipotentialite that has a thirst for life while feeding off of art by only making art with a cause, for a cause.

“Through this film, I was able to heal from my trauma, I was able to transform my relationship with my parents, I was able to voice out my pain and overcome my fear of sharing my thoughts and emotions especially when it came to patriarchy leading on. The Perfect Picture played a huge role in my growth first as an individual but second a female who can be the child of a two parents, but also a women with a respected voice.”

More from the Filmmaker

“As a result of watching The Perfect Picture, I want my generation to never be afraid to talk to their parents about whatever hurts them. I want them to know that if I could do it, then they can also do it.

But I also want the generation of parents to actually want to listen to their child and be supportive. I want parents to put their egos aside and learn how to have a healthy way of dealing with problems when they arise.

I want parents to learn how to fight better and wiser. I want both these generations to learn that anger, resentment, silent treatments, violence, physical or emotional abuse and forcefully forgetting problems is not the right way to fix things. I want parents to understand the emotional and mental responsibility that comes with keeping their children safe.

I could go on with the list but this is what I hope for. I want this film to be the reason, the mediator, the tool of reconciliation between these two generations.”

View more films in the Women’s Voices Now Online Film Collection.

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