On the evening of August 4th, 2020, billowing clouds of fire and smoke cleared the sky as a massive explosion of stockpiled ammonium nitrate in the port of Beirut rocked the small nation of Lebanon. The explosion, one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in human history, was felt as far away as Cyprus, killed over 200 people, and left 300,000 homeless. It seemed like an isolated event, but it’s indicative of a larger crisis ongoing in Lebanon.
Since 2019, hyperinflation has caused the poverty rate in Lebanon to rise from approximately 30% to 80%. Whereas just a few years ago, a tourist would typically spend $110 a day in Lebanon, that number has dropped to around $7 a day. Lebanon used to import over 50% of its grain from Ukraine; however, because of the recent invasion by Russia, Lebanon has no grain reserves left. It’s no wonder, then, that the World Bank is calling Lebanon’s economic crisis one of the “most severe crisis episodes globally since the mid-nineteenth century”.
Alejandro “Alex” Szymczak is an American filmmaker born and raised in Fairfax County, Virginia. Alex never cared much for movies growing up; however, when his mother took him to see a screening of The Shining, a world of fascination opened up. Since then, Alex has taken every opportunity he can get to work in motion pictures, serving as an assistant director and producer on multiple projects, including Iacon Pictures’ recent short film, Fall on Me.