INTERVIEW: Go West, Young Man! (West Beirut, that is) The Travels of Ziad Doueiri

by Anthony Kaufman

First films are never easy. Sure, getting financing is nearly impossible -- and don't even mention distribution -- but what about just getting the guts to direct in the first place? Forget your day job, throw caution to the wind and make a movie that costs at least three times more than your annual salary? For Ziad Doueiri, the Lebanese-born, LA-based director of "West Beirut," a stirring coming-of-age set during Lebanon's civil war in 1975, he's still asking himself that very question.

Born in Lebanon in 1963, Doueiri spent his adolescence riding scooters and avoiding bombs until 1983, when his family left the war-torn country to come to the US. Doueiri studied film at the University of San Diego and UCLA, and soon found himself, quite by accident, working as 1st assistant cameraperson on Quentin Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs." He has since worked in some capacity on the camera unit of all of Q.T.'s films. But what he really wanted to do was direct. The desire compelled him to travel back to Lebanon where he shot "West Beirut," a semi-autobiographical tale with endearing adolescent performances reminiscent of Fran