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Trash around a small town in Lebanon mysteriously starts to slither away onto the streets, forming a monstrous, sky-scraping tower of garbage, Mother Nature’s vengeful plan to ruin whoever has ruined her Earth. Little do the frightened citizens know that they’ve brought the hurl upon themselves.
Samir Kawas was born on November 14th 1998 and was raised in Beirut, Lebanon. He studied and graduated with a B.A. in T.V. and Film at the Lebanese American University. His love for film first sparked when he discovered VFX and video editing in his early teens. During his three years of university, Samir had an internship at the Lebanese Film Academy where he was a junior VFX artist on his teacher’s feature film Morine. In his last semester at university, Samir wanted to challenge himself and direct his own film. He is an avid genre film fan, especially sci-fi and horror. So he wrote, directed co-produced and edited his first horror student short film “Jabbara” and thoroughly enjoyed the process. “Jabbara” has been recognized at film festivals internationally and locally and has won multiple awards. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Samir worked at a post-production company where he edited short format videos and TVCs. More recently in 2021, Samir worked on what he calls a “zero-budget sci-fi environmental blockbuster PSA” titled “The Hurl”, his first independent short film. Currently, Samir spends his time working as freelance video editor and VFX artist, where he has turned his once hobby into the first step of his career. However, he’s actively been writing new films, of different genres, about important social and humanitarian issues. Samir hopes to spruce up his storytelling skills through experimenting with different genres and styles and hopes to defy the norms of traditional Lebanese cinema.
I never in my filmmaking career thought I would ever make a film about the environment, especially not about waste and garbage. That doesn’t mean that I don’t care about the environment, it’s just that I never felt that I could tackle such an important topic and make it entertaining for myself and others. However, when I heard about a local film competition whose theme was “Waste”, I found myself enticed to think of an idea. I didn’t want to make a short documentary about the subject because I thought to myself, everyone will be doing that. I had a few fictional ideas that I liked, but I didn’t want to settle for just anything. The subject is very overdone and boring; how can I add a new touch to it? Maybe it was the competitor in me that pushed me to think ‘outside the bin’. Maybe it was my love for genre films, especially horror and sci-fi?
That’s how I came up with “The Hurl”, a zero-budget sci-fi environmental disaster film/PSA.
The crew was minimal, and so was the equipment. The cast might seem extravagant, but it was more of friends, family members and neighbors who took a part in the film and had a bit of fun (I hope!).
The theme of the film is waste mismanagement and its effect on humans. In my home country, Lebanon, the garbage crisis has been going on for as long as I could remember, literally for years and years, long before I was born. I would say the majority of the Lebanese population, myself included, never really cared to “save the turtles” and “save the planet”, not because we don’t care for the environment, but because we never really had the right facilities and proper awareness provided while growing up. Also, our government doesn’t really have any laws or penalties for people who litter and pollute, so it was never something that people could take seriously. The Hurl showcases the impact of such negligence and how harming the environment ultimately means we’re harming ourselves. There’s a disaster/sci-fi element which gives Mother Nature the power to throw or ‘hurl’ the garbage back onto the humans who have littered, which hurts and ultimately ends them. Having it “rain” garbage also represents a literal iteration of karma and the vicious cycle: we litter, nature recollects our trash and then throws it back at us.
The ending to me really shows how such a topic is disregarded by many and is perceived as trivial and imaginative, sort of like a child’s imagination with pure play and no correct understanding of consequence. It’s a public service announcement that raises awareness and advocates for changing our ways of living and protecting our planet before the reality hits us and it’s too late.
I would say making this film was definitely a wakeup call. We had to collect some trash in order to incorporate it as props and art direction for the film. This showed us the huge amount of waste we, myself and my family, as a household generate within such a short amount of time. It actually pushed us to start sorting the garbage in our home and to send it to recycling afterwards.
I would say I’m proud that I was able to challenge myself to make a film about such an important subject and I hope that this film will push my community and others like myself to take the first step into the right direction, to save our planet and better manage waste. It’s heartwarming to see how more Lebanese people, and people in general, are getting more well versed with nature advocacy, and I applaud the small businesses and the local NGOs who are working so hard to provide easy-access services and facilities to help heal our planet Earth. ~Samir