In “Roman,” emerging Lebanese director Jessy Moussallem places the members of the all-male band Mashrou’ Leila firmly – and literally – in the background, as the women of the film move forwards together.
The song’s refrain: ‘Aleihum — “Charge!” is a call to arms, a cry for self-realization, as Mashrou’ Leila explains: a way of “treating oppression not as a source of victimhood, but as the fertile ground from which resistance can be weaponized.”
The women in the video are mostly dressed in Middle Eastern clothing like caftans and abayas, with headscarves or the niqab — deliberately stereotypical outfits, given Lebanon’s diversity and what women there actually wear. As the band explains, they’re “styled to over-articulate their ethnic background, in a manner more typically employed by Western media to victimize them.’
The most visually striking elements – the contemporary dance, the woman galloping on horseback, the far-stretching vistas, and the final destination of the sea – speak to freedom and an uncertain yet hopeful future.