Friday, December 11, 2009

Merry X-Mas & Happy Creative Year

X-mas is around the corner again and you might be running out of gift ideas. As it is a time of giving and sharing, here’s what you can do: offer a unique gift and encourage Lebanese filmmakers at the same time by purchasing the Lebanese Film Festival DVD.

Two good deeds in 1!

Now that’s a great way to start the year!

AVAILABLE ONLINE at Librairie Antoine.
Direct link: Lebanese Film Festival DVD at Librairie Antoine
Or in select stores in Lebanon.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

LFF 2009: The Closing Ceremony - And the winner is...

And the first ever Lebanese Film Festival award winner is… Shirin Abu Shaqra with Un instant mon Glamour. Congratulations Shirin !

The Bank Audi Best Film award was presented to the young film director by Mr. Raymond Audi during a very busy and happy closing ceremony.

We asked Elie Khalifé, member of the Jury together with Hania Mroué and Rima Mismar, why they awarded Shirin’s movie:

Elie Khalifé: “ Because her movie is a jewel; it is different, new, powerful, poetic, musical… But I must admit that the final decision was not easy as there were a lot of good movies programmed, like Talal Khouri’s Mercredi; Katia Jarjoura’s Bi rouh, bi dam; Hady Zaccak’s Darson fil Tarikh; Jad Sarout’s Zeid w Leyla…”

We asked Shirin what it felt like to receive the first award presented at the Lebanese Film Festival :

Shirin Abu Shaqra: “Superb! It is a beautiful sign of encouragement. This was the second screening of the movie in public, and the first time in the Arab world. So it is really rewarding!”

Do you have any future plans?

SAS: “ I'm working on a 2D/3D fantastic tale, entitled Conversations with Changes. The Original Soundtrack will be composed by IRCAM young composer Patricia Alessandrini. This film, which is being produced in the framework of my residency at Fresnoy, Studio National d'Art Contemporain in France, will be released next year.”


Two other highlights of the evening were the screening of Lara Saba’s documentary Shattered Memories based on Télé Liban restored archives which have a highly historical and emotional value; and the screening of Chadi Zeneddine’s debut feature film Falling from Earth.

This was the first time Falling from Earth was screened in Lebanon, Chadi’s fatherland. And his enthusiasm and excitement could not be more apparent as he introduced the film to a packed audience amongst which his actors and crew members. A director’s close up interview with Chadi will be written in the next post.

Monday, August 24, 2009

LFF 2009 - The Closing Pics

Chadi Zeneddine, film Director (Falling From Earth) & Pierre Sarraf, Director, LFF.

Lara Saba, Film Director (Shattered Dreams)

Talal Khouri (right), Film Director (Mercredi & 9 août)

H.E. Mr. Raymond Audi - Minister of Displaced - Board Member of Bank Audi sal

H.E. Mr. Raymond Audi presenting the Bank Audi Best Film Award to Shirin Abu Shaqra

Shirin Abu Shaqra, winner of the first LLF award with H.E. Mr. Raymond Audi, Jury members (Hania Mroué, Elie Khalifé, Rima Mismar) and Pierre Sarraf, Director LFF.

Winner with H.E. Mr. Raymond Audi, Festival team, Jury members and Bank Audi representatives

Festival atmosphere

Chadi Zeneddine presenting his movie Falling From Earth

Chadi and his film team

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All pictures by Mokhtar -
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LFF 2009 - Day 4

Day 4 kicked off with a special students’ showing in Theater 1. The cinema was (needless to say) packed again. Students from ALBA, IESAV and USEK cheered and chanted for their comrades, respectively Jad Eid, Robert Cremona and Joe Saadeh.

The second showing screened a retrospective of short movies from the Oberhausen Festival in presence of the Festival’s director, Lars Gass. “We select films we do not understand,” was Gass’ introductory sentence to the showing. At the end of the session, the Lebanese audience came out of the theater with the impression that Gass’ sentence was right to the point. They too did not understand much, except maybe for the movie Counter which was more accessible. Lars Gass and Akram Zaatari then held a 30min Q&A session with the audience, of which many were university film students.

Mohamed Soueid’s documentary Ma hataftou il ghayriha brought a beautiful end to day 4.
Right after Soueid’s screening:
Festival Spectator: “ What an interesting documentary! It was really worthwhile!”
Festival: “Oh, so the rest of the festival was not…?”
FS: “I didn’t say that! Of course it was worthwhile, but this documentary was superiorly good.”

LFF 2009 - Day 4 pics

Akram Zaatari, Film Director

Dr. Lars Gass, Director, Oberhausen Short Film Festival

Robert Cremona, Film Director (IESAV) (Le temps des cerises)

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All pictures by Mokhtar -

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

LFF 2009 - Day 3

If you like documentaries, we hope you didn’t miss day 3 of the Festival. A total of five documentaries on ‘very’ Lebanese issues were screened in both cinemas throughout the evening.

Not Like my Sister by Leyla Assaf-Tengroth ran in Theater 1 before an attentive audience who seemed grasped by the story and touched by the characters that were depicted. Round of applause.

At the same time, the duo Hayda Lubnan/Jnoub were screened in Theater 2. The Lebanese audience immediately identified with the issues in Eliane Raheb’s story, clapping, laughing and nodding during the entire film. The same atmosphere was observed during Hady Zaccak’s documentary, an original study of a sensitive Lebanese problem: its History. What better way to do it than to give the say to highschoolers?

Other screenings included: a documentary by Lokman Slim&Monika Borgmann, animations by Shirin Abu Shaqra and Amandine Brenas, cinematic essays by Chadi Younes and Khaled Ramadan and two shorts by Claude el Khal and Assi Rahbani.

The evening ended in Theater 2 with a controversial movie from 1980, Comme la mer et ses vagues.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

LFF 2009 - Day 3 pics

Claude El Khal, Film Director (Ecce Hommos)

Hady Zaccak, Film Director (Darson fil Tarikh) and one of the 'actors' in his documentary

Leyla Assaf-Tengroth, Film Director (Not like my sister)

Eliane Raheb (right), Film Director (Hayda Lubnan)
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All pictures by Mokhtar -

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Friday, August 21, 2009

LFF 2009 - Day 2

Day 2 offered a diverse selection of genres, from shorts to documentaries, from animations to experimentals.

‘Tout le monde pouvait y trouver son bonheur’, as they say in French. Suitable for all tastes…

Day 2 was also a day of novelties for the festival:

- 2 cinemas instead of 1: though we, the Festival organizers, were afraid not to be able to fill up two theaters, we were happily surprised that both were full to the brim almost throughout the whole evening.

-Video clips, a new genre: which attracted a lot of new faces to the Festival – we hope they’ll come back for the rest of the program. Lars Gass, director of The Oberhausen Short Film Festival, our Foreign Guest, presented its selection of German clips. By the way, Oberhausen was the first film festival to screen video clips, as explained by Mr. Gass. These were followed by a couple of our own Lebanese clips by Zeid Hamdan, Youmna Habbouche, Pedros Tamizian… ‘It was a good idea to screen video clips. Some are experimental, others tend to be more like video art or animations… It’s also a great opportunity for Lebanese underground bands to show their videos as they will probably never be broadcast on Lebanese TV, ‘ confessed a regular festival spectator.

During the first showing in Theater 1, the Festival yet again welcomed a battlefield of spectators for the screening of shorts by Sabine Chamaa, Eileen Hofer, Talal Khouri and a cinematic essay by Shirin Abu Shaqra. Some were fortunate enough to find seats; others were spread along the entire staircase, almost one on top of the other or stood in rows at the end of the theater like at a rock concert. All four movies were punctuated by heartfelt applause and cheers and whistles of appreciation.

Seating conditions were a bit better during the second showing as everyone could find a seat though the theater remained full. Luckily, as the film on screen was a long documentary by Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, Khiam 2000-2007. ‘Deep’, ‘intense’ were adjectives used by viewers at the end of the show. “It was a long documentary, but so well written that our curiosity was satisfied throughout,” explained a thrilled spectator.

Besides video clips, Theater 2’s first showing offered animations by Joanne Baz, Maryline Farah and documentaries by Corine Shawi and Roy Arida. Put aside a minor ‘chips’ incident (those who were in the theater at the time will understand!), the rest of the screening proceeded seamlessly with a cheerful crowd.

The last showing of the evening was for those who are not afraid of the weird and the new. Experimental or rather cinematic essays by Ziad Antar, Gheith Al Amine, Sirine Fattouh and Carine Doumit brought the evening to a weird but interesting end.

LFF 2009 - Day 1

The 8th Edition of the Lebanese Film Festival kicked off yesterday by welcoming some 600 spectators on a hot (40°C?) and humid (90%?) evening.

Despite some organizational snags due to the usual 3aj2a and some technical glitches (hey, this is Lebanon!), the crowd came out of the theater after a satisfying first look at the festival. When asked what they thought about the opening program, most of them replied that they were happily surprised by the quality of the movies that were shown and that they felt proud that Lebanon offers such artistic talents.

Though the movies presented were all Lebanese, they were all quite different. The audience giggled and laughed throughout Danielle Arbid’s mise-en-scène of typical Ashrafieh middle-aged women having conversations around their afternoon Arabic coffee.

A blanket of silence descended upon the spectators as Katia Jarjoura’s emotional and intense "Bi rouh, bi dam" unfolded. The audience gave Katia a round of warm applause, showing that her first fiction movie has won the hearts of many Lebanese.

Talal Khoury took the spectators on a Hamra-esque half-hour journey into the surreal and the spontaneous.

There is still plenty for your eyes to feast on in the coming days! We'll see you at the Empire Sofil Metropolis Cinema everyday till Sunday - programs start at 6pm.

Please note that the Festival Pass gives you access to all screenings until Sunday – Please don’t lose it and bring it with you to the cinema!

Also, if you want to be sure to have a seat – and not sit on the floor or watch the movie while standing, make sure to arrive on time and to get into the theater early.

LFF 2009 - The Opening Pics

LFF 2009 kicks off!

Pierre Sarraf, Director LFF being interviewed...

Katia Jarjoura, Filmmaker ("Bi rouh, bi dam")

Talal Khoury, Filmmaker (Mercredi; 9 août)

Nadim Tabet, Artistic Director, being interviewed...

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

LFF 2009 - it starts 2DAY!

In a couple of hours, LFF 2009 will open its doors & let you in once more into the world of Lebanese cinema... Be there!

7pm - opening

7.30pm - program starts... Danielle Arbid's Conversations de Salon II, Katia Jarjoura's Bi rouh, bi dam and Talal Khoury's Mercredi...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

LFF 2009 - TV Commercial/Jingle

Ok, most of you must have already seen it and some of you must have seen it over and over again... but for those who have not yet had the chance to come across the LFF 2009 TVC either on Facebook or youtube, LBC or TV5...

Just click on the image & it'll take you to the magical world of the Festival ;-)

LFF 2009 - Press Conference 17-08-09

H.E. Mr. Raymond Audi - Minister of Displaced - Board Member of Bank Audi sal

Mr. Pierre Sarraf - Director, Lebanese Film Festival - GM, ..né.à Beyrouth Productions

Mr. Nadim Tabet - Artistic Director, Lebanese Film Festival - partner in ..né.à Beyrouth Productions

H.E. Mr. Raymond Audi; Mrs. Aimée Boulos - President, Fondation Liban Cinema; Mr. Pierre Sarraf

Mr. Chadi Zeneddine, Filmmaker (Falling From Earth)

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Lebanese Film Festival 2009: The Program!

For the impatient film festival goers amongst you, here it is! Finally! The much awaited program of the Lebanese Film Festival 2009!

And for those among you who wish to attend the Opening, guess what... there's no official or fancy invitation but it's First come, First served!

Click on the image below for a larger view of the Program of the Opening...

LFF 2009: Director Close-Up

LFF 2009 selection : "Dans le Sang"

Katia Jarjoura -- radio and magazine journalist, documentary and fiction film-maker -- is a woman of many hats, projects and perspectives. Luckily, we were able to catch up with her somewhere between Montreal and Beirut to talk about "Dans le Sang," her first fiction piece. A few words from Katia:

..né.à Beyrouth (nàB): Congratulations on being selected for screening at this year's Lebanese Film Festival. Why did you submit your film to this particular festival?

Katia Jarjoura (KJ): For different reasons. First, because Pierre Sarraf and Wadih Safieddine, the founders of the festival, were some of the first people I met when I arrived in Beirut 9 years ago, and they both encouraged and helped me out in my work as a filmmaker. I also chose ..né.à Beyrouth, because I like the fact that it's an all-Lebanese film festival. Since I lived in Canada for a long time (my mother is Canadian, my father, Lebanese) it makes me feel part of a big Lebanese family.

B: You are also a journalist, so documentary seems to be a natural genre for you. Has your experience as a journalist given you a unique perspective when making documentaries?

KJ: It's true, I also work part time as a freelance radio and magazine reporter, although less and less today. Journalism allowed me to discover the Middle East in a more up-front way, since as a reported, you have access to certain people or situations that you wouldn't have otherwise, especially in conflict zones like Baghdad, Gaza or Kabul. These various encounters and fascinating stories nurtured my inspiration for documentaries and fiction films.

But here is also the trap: a good story idea isn't enough to make a good film. It's how you develop this idea that makes a difference. My first documentaries are, in a way, "journalistic." They all portray individuals caught in the midst of a political conflict. I also used archival footage, since I do believe that History shapes the present and gives a better understanding of it. Today, though, I'm gradually moving away from journalism and I'm developing more personal projects, which forces me to adopt "un autre regard" - another vision of the world.

B: "Dans le Sang" is your first fiction piece. Why did you decide to move into fiction?

KJ: I've been wanting to do fiction for a long time. In parallel with my work as a reporter, I've always written short fiction stories, or scripts, mostly linked with my experience in war zones. I guess I really decided to make the move when I realized the "limits" of documentary filmmaking. In the Middle East, people are really careful about what they say - and they have the right to be - especially in my field of interests. They are afraid to reveal themselves to the camera.

They know the power and the impact of images, so they hide behind certain words and attitudes and often, things said "off the record" are more meaningful than "on the record." So they end up "controlling" the film. In a way, they become the film directors! This is a constraint you don't have in fiction films. You decide where you want to lead the story. I also wanted to push the limits of certain concepts, like war and kinship. I think there is a certain "absurdity" in my film in the way the father behaves...As much as Lebanon can be surprising and absurd sometimes -- how a conflict can start and stop like this, without anyone being accountable for it, and without anyone learning from it

B: "Dans le Sang" addresses the intersection of war and violence with generational tension and transference. What are the implications of this intersection for family relationships and cycles of violence?

KJ: I used the thematic of "blood" to show that, in certain countries like Lebanon, war can transmit itself through kinship. And it's exactly what we are witnessing today: apart from certain people who have learned from the past and are trying to instigate changes, most Lebanese are the "products" of what their fathers were. They follow the same political parties, they praise the same leaders, they chant the same slogans. This is particularly true in popular areas, where my film takes place.

So how can the country go through a revival if the new generation is walking in the footsteps of their predecessors? One only has to notice what happened in Beirut in May 2008 -- hood militiamen in the streets with RPGs -- or after each political speech and gathering during the legislative elections this year -- shooting in the air and skirmishes -- to conclude that Lebanon hasn't really learned from its civil wars, and that this cycle of violence will not end until the next generations put a brake on it, by refusing to behave in the name of their fathers. Even more: by criticizing their fathers. Is it possible in a region where clans and families are the bulk of society? Maybe not. But in my view, it's the only way.

LFF 2009: Director Close-Up

LFF 2009 selection: "Mercredi" and "9 Aout"

..né.à Beyrouth (nàB): Congratulations on being selected for screening at this year's Lebanese Film Festival. Why did you submit your film to this particular festival?

Talal Khoury (TK): It's the third time I am participating in this Festival, because I find the organizers to be very professional, humble and serious.

I've had the opportunity to be a regular participant in a festival that continues to evolve and develop each year.

nàB: We are showing two of your films this year. "Mercredi" is more of a comedy, while "9 Aout" deals with a serious topic. How did you come to work on films of such different nature? Do you prefer working with comic or dramatic stories?

TK: Each one of us has various sides, and is made complete by a combination of a comic side and a dramatic side. I have worked to develop both of these sides in myself, and it is both an enormous pleasure and a real challenge to be able to do this in my films.

Personally, I prefer comedy. The general mood of work in a comic film is agreeable and "lighter," even if the work itself is as difficult as it is in drama.

nàB: "9 Aout" is a beautiful film, made on what I have been told was a tight budget. How were you able to engage so many actors and create such a polished work on your limited resources?

TK: The technical team and actors who worked on this film and on my other short films have been talented and dedicated people. I consider them to be true friends and colleagues. They have worked as if these projects were their own, without financial compensation. That is what has allowed me to overcome the fact that I had a limited budget, and to achieve a collective work, done with devotion and love.

nàB: Do you have any future projects in the works?

TK: I am finalizing the writing of a very small budget feature length film, in the hopes of directing it soon. This time, the film is more about the exploration of the individual's subconscious and the intertwining of different destinies - always with an eye on both the best and the worst in each individual.

Friday, August 14, 2009

LFF 2009: Director Close-Up

LFF 2009 selection: "Falling from Earth"

..né.à Beyrouth will present "Falling from Earth" as the closing film
for the 2009 LFF on Monday 24th August at 7.30pm. It is the only
feature-length selection which will be shown during the festival.

"Falling from Earth" is director Chadi Zeneddine's first feature film
and has received international attention. It was screened at the
Museum of Modern Art in New York as part of the 2008 MoMA New
Directors / New Films exhibition.

Hear what Chadi says about the movie in his interview with Film
Catcher, posted below. We've also included the trailer for the film.

Happy screening!

Interview with Chadi Zeneddine by Film Catcher

Trailer: Falling From Earth

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

LFF 2009 - Film Selections Part 5

Here are the remaining 12 selections for the 2009 Lebanese Film Festival. All 38 selected films have now been introduced on this blog - a special entry will be dedicated this week to Chadi Zeneddine's feature film, Falling From Earth.

These films have been chosen from approximately 150 submissions of works by Lebanese filmmakers and about Lebanon. We are also projecting pre-selected works from other sources and holding special events, so be sure to keep posted on the program by checking here.

Congratulations to the selected films, and happy screening to all!


Khiam 2000 - 2007
by Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige
Lebanon, 2008 - Documentary

In 1999, while South Lebanon was still occupied by the Israeli army, we had no image of the detention camp of Khiam. We met six prisoners who had just been freed to discuss with them the experience of detention, the relation they developed to artwork to survive and to question the modes of representation.

In May 2000, the camp of Khiam is liberated and turned into a museum.
During the July 2006 war, the camp is totally destroyed by Israel.
Today, there is some talk of rebuilding it exactly as it was.

8 years later, we meet again with the six prisoners we had filmed in 1999 to recall with them the liberation then the destruction of the camp, memory, history, reconstitution, imagination and power of the image.


Conversation de Salon II (4,5,6)
by Danielle Arbid
Lebanon, 2009 - Cinematic essay

In Beirut, my mother receives guests every day at around 4pm. My mother's friends take over her living room and divulge details of their lives. Conversation erupts on all sides. Secrets are revealed. Even happiness is the subject of rivalry.

In three films, my mother's friends talk about of what makes them happy: knowing how to travel, getting themselves cosmetic surgery, and to praying.


Sheftou mn biid
by Elie Dagher
Lebanon, 2009 - Video clip

Music video for a single from Belaaks, an album produced by Jean Marie Riachi.


by Joe Elias and Youmna Habbouche
Lebanon, 2009 - Video clip

A frame by frame animated visual adaptation of Youmna Saba's song "Ismak."


Prelude to an abyss
by Pedros Tamizian
Lebanon, 2009 - Video clip

Serge kills Abed, Fadi panics and Amin observes.


Generation Rewind
by Chadi Younes
Lebanon, 2009 - Cinematic Essay

I found a tape I shot in 2005 but had not seen since then. The label said "March 14th." On that day 1 million Lebanese showed up in downtown Beirut to protest. Put together, the footage turned out to be a portrait of a young generation that inherits the past and, inevitably, keeps repeating it.


Le temps des cerises
by Robert Cremona
Lebanon, 2009 - Short movie

“The Quiet town where nothing goes wrong”
Alice, 13 years old, is waiting for the train that will take her far away, to a land where she would be free to enjoy the simple things in life…

Her wish starts to come true the day she falls on the mysterious paper that reads,“Congratulations you have won a one way ticket to Le Temps des Cerises »...


Not Like My Sister
by Leyla Assaf-Tengroth
Sweden, 2008 - Documentary

The Kerkatli family’s oldest daughter, Rim, was married off at age 13. Her little sister Dalida has decided that this will never happen to her. She wants to make her own choice-but it is a risky path.

At age nine, Rim was in the spotlight in the director's work “Cheikha”. After this exposure Rim was able to go to school, but her family crushed her dreams by forcing her to marry her father’s cousin.

Rim’s little sister Dalida is uncommonly strong-willed and brave. She refuses to marry on her family’s terms. By the age of 16 she has survived three attempts on her future by her father and his brothers. Despite this, and against all odds, Dalida’s protest grows ever stronger. She revolts, breaks old patterns, ignores traditions and finally triumphs when she manages to marry the man she loves, even though he is Christian. But her revolt comes with a price: Dalida can never return to her home village.


Night of Love
by Ziad Antar
Lebanon, 2009 - Cinematic essay


by Khaled Ramadan
Lebanon / Egypt / Finland, 2009 - Cinematic essay

Falafel (Arabic: فلافل‎ (falaafil), Hebrew: פָלָאפֶל‎; also known in Egypt and Sudan as ta'meya, Arabic طعمية).

Falafel originated in Egypt, and has been part of the diet of Arabs and Mizrahi Jews for centuries. It is an iconic Palestinian food and is also considered a national food in Israel. A popular Israeli song composed by Dan Almagor in 1958, "And We Have Falafel," included a line claiming falafel as an exclusive Israeli provenance. By the 1970s, Jewish cookbooks included recipes for falafel that made no mention of its Arab origins, leading many Arabs to resent the cultural appropriation of this iconic food.

Ammiel Alcalay, a Jewish professor of Middle Eastern culture, has described the Israeli adoption of falafel as "total appropriation".


Arb3a Chabeb wa siyara
by Joe Saadeh
Lebanon, 2009 - Short Movie

Four guys searching for a job in “alkone.” The car breaks down. Each one leaves in a different direction.


No title (Music & video performance)
Lebanon, 2009 - Cinematic Essay

A live experimental screening which has the vocation of being a film but slips into the ephemeral as it will never be recorded. A screening which speaks for itself.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

LFF 2009 - Cinéritage

Restored Télé-Liban Archi

The Fondation Liban Cinéma's (FLC) "Plan Images Archives" project works to restore and digitally transfer deteriorating 16mm archive films of Télé-Liban from the 1960 to 1980 period. This project, which started in November 2007 and is expected to be completed by the end of 2009, is the result of a collaboration between the FLC, the French Ministry of Foreign & European Affairs, Télé-Liban and "The Gate" company (Kodak laboratory in Lebanon).

The LFF 2009 will be projecting a compilation of selections from these carefully restored archives in this year's Cinéritage section, as part of our continued efforts to help renew ties with Lebanon's cinematographic heritage.

The compilation of archives which will be screened at LFF 2009 includes footage from both Tallet El Khayat and Hazmieh archives.

Shattered Memories (by Lara Saba) will be screening at the closing* of the Festival on Monday 24th August, at 7.30pm.

* Closing by invitation only.