Cinema festivals abound everywhere in the world and explore so many themes. However, in Montreal (Canada), for the first time, a very special Lebanese movie festival happened in March 2017.
Special because the event was not only for entertainment purposes but was also linked to raising money for sick, orphaned, and disabled children in Lebanon. A kind of solidarity bridge between Canada and Lebanon or simply a helping hand across the ocean.
Organized by Liban-Canada Fonds (LCF), the event drew a flock of viewers. The president of LCF, Nicole Abdul Masih, and her team have worked for several years to support the cause of children in Lebanon. The money collected is entirely handed over to the Lebanese organizations supported by LCF (SESOBEL, AFEL and Saint-Vincent de Paul).
But beyond all this, the enchantment of a projected image, infused with the Lebanese flavor on a Canadian screen, gave the festival a whole new dimension! It made Lebanon come alive, awakening its children living abroad to its reality. Moreover, it contributed to luring viewers into a world of wonderment, with all the intricate relationships which envelop the memory relating to a native land. This, much like one’s first love, is unforgettable because it is the first experience of a sense of belonging.
For five consecutive nights, Lebanese movies were projected with subtitles in French or English. They enchanted viewers with a variety of themes, and something magical reached the audience during the festival.
As each movie kicked off, a particular journey started. The movie experience became intimate. Each viewer was met with a personal emotion relating to Lebanon. Some people commented on the scenery of Beirut, and how they had forgotten that the city was amazingly beautiful, basking in the sun and languorously flirting along the Mediterranean Sea. Some others smiled as they heard an Arabic expression forgotten for years, such as “ma tajarssina” (taint someone’s reputation or status), or a new one they had never heard before as “Fawkes” (this literally means the verb “to focus” – a way of Lebanesifying an English word) or “mdapras” (it means “blue” or “depressed” and also stems from English). Many viewers had teary eyes as they witnessed a typical Sunday family lunch with grandmas and grandpas and many generations mingling together. Some were amazed by the treatment of contemporary themes such as sexuality, identity loss, and social stigmas. A few made comments about how modern Lebanese society has become and how talented the new generation is.
After each projection, instead of leaving the theater, the North American way, people stayed and started discussion about the movie, the Oriental way. Many shared their joy or sorrow about a scene or about a fragment that emerged from their memory. The movie experience became a social experience basking in an emotion deeply rooted in a collective or individual memory. Moreover, the festival awoke dormant, faded pictures of a country that belonged to the past for many and that, because of a moving picture, propelled them into its present.
It is said that once awakened a memory will never go back to sleep and that the murmur of the heart is as strong as any tsunami. Thus, the message for Lebanese-born creators is to continue to produce. The wings of their work carry the soft song of an unforgettable melody from the land of milk and honey.
And Action by Jad El-Khoury
This romantic comedy with full musical passages is also an in-depth study of related social problems.
Parisienne by Danielle Arbid
In the 1990s, at 18, a young woman lands in the City of Light to complete her university studies and seek a certain form of freedom.
The Lebanese Rocket Society by Joana Hadgithomas and Khalil Joreige
Documentary about a mathematics teacher and his zealous students who set up a genuine aerospace program between 1960 and 1967.
The Cedar and the Steel by Valérie Vincent
The director tells the story and the reality of an architectural mutation in a neighborhood of Beirut.
Go HOME by Jihane Chouaib
A stranger in her own country, haunted by the mysterious disappearance of her grandfather during the civil war, Nada sets off in search of truth and identity.
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