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Beyond the Cedars : Lebanese Celluloid

by Edwin N
Beyond the Cedars : Lebanese Celluloid by Edwin N
Lebanon never truly had the luxury to afford itself a proper “film industry”. Lebanese films are mostly funded and produced by foreign production houses, mostly European. The average number of films made per year in the country is 12 (approx.). This number does not take into consideration Lebanese-Egyptian co-productions that are usually shot in Gulf countries and produced by private Egyptian studios but featuring local talent. Lebanese cinema has first been internationally mapped in 1998, with the release of “West Beirut”, which later became a cult classic featured on Rosenbaum’s list of 1,000 essential films. Most Lebanese films,… Read more

Lebanon never truly had the luxury to afford itself a proper “film industry”.
Lebanese films are mostly funded and produced by foreign production houses, mostly European.
The average number of films made per year in the country is 12 (approx.). This number does not take into consideration Lebanese-Egyptian co-productions that are usually shot in Gulf countries and produced by private Egyptian studios but featuring local talent.
Lebanese cinema has first been internationally mapped in 1998, with the release of “West Beirut”, which later became a cult classic featured on Rosenbaum’s list of 1,000 essential films.
Most Lebanese films, including “West Beirut”, portray the civil war that took place in 1975 and spanned for over two decades. Its numerous stages and “characteristics” (proxy war, ethnic cleansing, sectarian strifes, battleground for Palestinian recognition) were inexhaustibly documented by various Lebanese films throughout the 90s and early 2000s. Prominent Lebanese filmmakers include Ziad Doueiri (“West Beirut”, “Lila Says”, “The Attack”), Joseph Fares (“Zozo”), Danielle Arbid (“In the Battlefields”, “A Lost Man”, “Beirut Hotel”), Philippe Aractangi (“Under the Bombs”, “Bosta”), Nadine Labaki (“Caramel”, “Where Do We Go Now?”) power couple Khalil Joreig and Joanna Hadjithomas (“The Lebanese Rocket Society”, “Ashes”, “A Perfect Day”, “I Want to See”- they’re also video artists whose work is permanently exposed at the Centre Pompidou museum in Paris, France) and especially Maroun Baghdadi (“Little Wars”, “The South is Fine, How About You?”, “The Veiled Man”), considered by many to be the greatest Lebanese filmmaker of all. Baghdadi was also known for his work with Francis Ford Coppola. Less “relevant” filmmakers in the mainstream Arab media include Ghassan Sahlab (“1958”, “Phantom Beirut”), Assad Fouladkar,Randa Chahal Sabag (“The Kite” – winner of the 2003 Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival),and Michel Kammoun.
Most Lebanese filmmakers used the film medium as a leftist/pan-Arabist political tool that promotes the idea of a Palestinian homeland/secularisation of the country and romanticises the idea of Arab unity.

Personally, my favourite Lebanese filmmaker is Danielle Arbid; her work blends thematics that have been seen in Breillat and Antonioni films: she’s probably the only Lebanese (if not Arab) filmmaker that has tackled the subject of sexuality with such frankness and explicitness.
Take a look at this : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inFS5QHuoNo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Na4TDVNczfo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nnzs4YERRjI
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rayLsUwioRg

Youssef Chahine films that were included on this list were filmed in Lebanon. Ditto to Schlondorff’s The Circle of Deceit*, Spy games, Syriana and Assayas’ Carlos

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