BYE BYE TIBERIAS
“Don’t open the gate to past sorrows,” was the response filmmaker Lina Soualem received when asking her mother, actress Hiam Abbass (Succession), about where she came from. In the TIFF 2023 documentary BYE BYE TIBERIAS, audiences journey into the past through the crumbling walls of healing trauma and treasured connections.
The film consists of informal sit-down interviews, extensive personal writings, archival footage, and plenty of home videos of the generations of strong women in the family. We discover the hurt from Hiam’s past, the emotional baggage of leaving behind the turmoil of Palestine, but also the treasured connections of the women who shaped her. Hiam’s letters and poems serve as both insight and narration. They are intensely affecting.
Lina takes Hiam to her childhood home in Tiberias. As we witness Hiam wade through the complexities of guilt and grief, the film exposes a universality I was not expecting. BYE BYE TIBERIAS captures the heartship of carving a path that defies the patriarchal structure. One often defined by social and political forces beyond our control.
Hiam and her family love one another with their whole hearts. They have no filters when speaking to each other, and their words of affirmation are something to aspire to. Lina Soualem captures all of this in an elegant edit. The film is beautifully intimate. It’s a loving commentary on memory, identity, and honoring your past.