Today more than ever, Lebanon needs to show and share its film production. And above all, the Lebanese need to dream and to free themselves. In its second edition, from September 30 to October 3, the Lebanese Film Festival of France (FFLF) challenged the restrictive health context by opposing the uncertain situation of the country with a certainty: art can always carry voices loud and clear. Lebanese artists, and in particular filmmakers.
Founded in Paris in 2019, the FFLF has a dual objective. On the one hand, to show all the richness and diversity of Lebanese cinema by making a wide range of creations accessible to the general public, from fiction to documentary, including essays and experimental film, whether through long or short films. On the other hand, the festival aims to forge links between professionals in the sector, to give Lebanese films an additional possibility of being spotted and of being shown elsewhere in France and in Europe. It also plans to develop in the French regions over the long term. “As soon as the festival started to emerge, confides Sarah Hajjar, director and founder of this event, it was quickly spotted by filmmakers and professionals in the field who were very encouraging; there was real expectation from both the audience and the filmmakers. ”
Hajjar is delighted with the “bridges that are being created with other European festivals, notably the Fameck Arab Film Festival and the Geneva International Oriental Film Festival, both of which have joined us as partners this year. We also continue this year the partnership with the Lebanese Film Festival of Beirut, the Lebanese Film Festival of Canada and that of Australia, which allows us to continue to consolidate the network, to feed each other in the same common objective: the promotion of Lebanese cinema all over the world. ”Regarding its programming, although focused on current creation, the festival does not fail to introduce or rediscover classics of its cinema through films that have marked the history of Lebanese cinema.
Short films in competition
For the director of the festival, the first edition had everything to be postponed. “Created in early 2019 for a first edition in 2020, she recalls, the project was put to the test with the unprecedented social and political crisis in Lebanon, the global pandemic and the explosion in Beirut on August 4, 2020 Despite all the difficulties, especially material, the festival benefited from the solidarity of a large number of Lebanese cinema figures – such as Philippe Aractingi, Danielle Arbid, Christine Choueiri or even Jimmy Keyrouz -, many partners, not to mention the invaluable support of the Lebanese diaspora in France. The first edition was thus able to see the light of day as planned from October 7 to 11, 2020 at the Institut du monde arabe and at the Lincoln, bringing together more than 700 spectators, and this in the midst of a global pandemic. “Despite the harsh and critical situation that Lebanon is going through, in this gloomy panorama, it was again urgent this year not to abandon culture, which needs support more than ever”, insists Hajjar.
The 2021 edition of the FFLF has a particularity: a competition of short films made recently. “This competition of student films outside the country is the only opportunity to offer visibility to Lebanese talents”, notes the director of the festival, indicating moreover that the association Valises pour Beyrouth, born in the aftermath of the explosions of 4 August 2020, will be present throughout the festival to collect donations in favor of Lebanon.
At the head of a young and dynamic team, notably Emilio Eid in programming, Catherine Otayek in treasury and others, President Sarah Hajjar, creator of this project, was also surrounded by a jury made up of Lebanese artist and filmmaker Joanna Hadjithomas, producer Anne-Dominique Toussaint, Mathieu Fournet, director of European and international affairs at the CNC (Center du cinéma et de l’image animée, in France), director of the Festival du Lebanese film since 2015, Wafa ‘Céline Halaoui, actress Manal Issa as well as Michelle Kesserwany, screenwriter, director and musician.
The 7th art, a tool of resistance
“Faced with the economic, political and social collapse, and this vertiginous fall that the country is experiencing, what can cinema still do? “, Launches Joanna Hadjithomas, godmother of this 2021 edition. And to continue without hesitation:” A lot. Bringing together different generations, this festival, which takes place over four days in two cinemas in the Parisian capital (Les 7 Parnassiens and le Lincoln), is above all a bearer of the voices of young people who have been deprived of the right to speak. It is also a vector of dreams and liberator, because it will allow meetings, exchanges, discoveries, compassion, beauty, revolt and poetry. “
On the program, therefore, fourteen short films by students in competition, but also a selection of films by confirmed filmmakers, such as Memory Box by Joanna Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, presented at the opening of the festival, followed by other fiction films, such as State of Agitation by Élie Khalifé, C-Section by David Oryan; documentaries Enough! Lebanon’s Darkest Hours by Daizy Gedeon, Le Cèdre d’October by Salim Saab, Agate Mousse by Selim Mourade, The Lebanese Rocket Society by Joana Hadjthomas and Khalil Joreige, but also a young audience screening of Ghadi by Amin Dora (2013), an essay by Philippe Aractingi, Thawra Soul, and the film by Maroun Baghdadi Beyrouth, ya Beyrouth (1975) which finds all its resonance in today’s news.
Round tables and debates are also on the program. In this context, we should mention an intervention by Michel Tabbal under the title: “Beirut in the cinema: from the Switzerland of the East to the powder keg of the East”. As well as a round table followed by an exchange with the public on the theme “Social and political revolt: what impact and what future for Lebanese culture and cinema?” »And finally a master class by Joanna Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige.
Driven by its values and supported by the loyalty of its partners, in particular the Vallée Village and the Franco-Lebanese Chamber of Commerce for this second edition, the festival continues its journey and hopes to grow from year to year and become a meeting place. essential of the French cultural scene.
Short films in competition
There Are No lions on Mars, de Christophe Nassif ;
Immaculate, d’Anthony Yazbeck ;
Luna, de Samer Sayegh;
Nafas, de Robert Mesnil;
Listen to Me, Reda, de Sara Safieddine ;
Amygdala, de Dana Abdessamad ;
Rahil, de Rachel Makhlouf;
Leila, de Hadi Bitar;
Elle , de Wael Assaf ;
Till We Meet Again, de Mardig Otjian ;
Bruxelles-Beyrouth, by Thibaut; Wohlfahrt and Samir Youssef;
The Red Mountain, de Kamel Harb ;
Roadblock, de Dahlia namely;
In Search of Times Past, d’Aya Chouaib.
https ://www.youtube.com/watch ? v=ath6Vm3G_uQ
Today more than ever, Lebanon needs to show and share its film production. And above all, the Lebanese need to dream and to free themselves. In its second edition, from September 30 to October 3, the Lebanese Film Festival of France (FFLF) challenged the restrictive health context by opposing the uncertain situation of the country with a certainty: art …