International Competition

Taste of Cement

Ziad Kalthoum
Screening time  
26.02. / Monday, 21:00 - 23:00 Theatre 2  
28.02. / Wednesday, 14:00 - 16:00 Theatre 3  
02.03. / Friday, 11:00 - 13:00 Theatre 2  
A striking essay on what it means to live in exile in a war-torn world with no possibilities to return home.

In Beirut, Syrian construction workers are building a skyscraper while at the same time their own houses at home are being shelled. The Lebanese war is over but the Syrian one still rages on. The workers are locked in the building site. They are not allowed to leave it after 7 p.m. The Lebanese government has imposed night-time curfews on the refugees. The only contact with the outside world for these Syrian workers is the hole through which they climb out in the morning to begin a new day of work. Cut off from their homeland, they gather at night around a small TV set to get the news from Syria. Tormented by anguish and anxiety, while suffering the deprivation of the most basic human and workers right, they keep hoping for a different life.


Ziad Kalthoum

Ziad Kalthoum was born in Homs in 1981. After the film studies, in 2011, he directed his first short documentary, Oh, My Heart (2011). His first feature-length documentary The Immortal Sergeant (2013) was filmed when he was a soldier in compulsory military service at the exact time of the outbreak of the Syrian revolution. In 2013, after defecting from the Syrian army and refusing to fight against his own people, he fled to Beirut and began filming now already award-winning Taste of Cement (2017).

General sponsor


Germany, Lebanon, Syrian Arab Republic, United Arab Emirates, Qatar
2017, 85'

Directed by:
Ziad Kalthoum

Screenplay by:
Ziad Kalthoum, Talal Khoury, Ansgar Frerich

Talal Khoury

Edited by:
Alex Bakri, Frank Brummundt

Sebastian Tesch

Ansgar Frerich, Eva Kemme, Tobias Siebert, Mohammad Ali Atassi

Produced by:
BASIS BERLIN Filmproduktion GmbH, Bidayyat for Audiovisual Arts

Festivals & Awards:

Nyon Visions du Réel 2017 – Grand Prix; Camden International Film Festival 2017 – Harrell Award for Best Documentary Feature; Adelaide Film Festival 2017 – Best Documentary; Dubai International Film Festival 2017 – Best Muhr non-Fiction Feature Award; DAS, Doc Alliance Selection Award 2017; Valletta Film Festival 2017 – Special Mention; Mediterranean Film Festival Široki Brijeg 2017 – Grand Prix; Open City Documentary Festival 2017 – The Emerging International Filmmaker Award; BIAFF, Batumi International Art-house Film Festival 2017 – Best Doc; Filmfest Hamburg 2017 –  Best Documentary; FRONTDOC 2017 – Jury Award; Kasseler Dokfest 2017 – Golden Key Award; RIDM 2017 – Special Jury Prize; European Film Awards Documentary Selection 2017, La Roche-sur-Yon International Film Festival 2017 – The New Waves Competition Prize; L’ALTERNATIVA Barcelona Independent Film Festival 2017 – Don Quixote Prize for Best Feature Film