Saturday, December 15, 2007

Upcoming movies in 2008

So, the year 2007 have almost ended, with films being welcomed by critics such as "Caramel", and "a lost man". "Under the bombs" or "تحت القصف" by Philipe Aractingi - Director of Bosta - will be released on December 20th in Lebanon to continue showing through trough the upcoming 2008 new year. This film have received pretty good critics, and its trailer looks promising. We should note as well the many awards won by this movie, The Gold Muhr award as well as the best actress award for Nada Abou Farhat was awarded lately during the Dubai Film Festival.

Trailer of "Under the bombs"

"Falling from earth" or "و على الأرض السماﺀ" by Chadi Zeneddine, is scheduled to be released later in 2008 and has already premiered during Dubai Film Festival. Some making of the movie have been released lately, with a great cast including Rafic Ali Ahmad, this movie cannot be but something good (Note that this movie was first titled as "Waiting for Beirut").

Making of "Falling from earth"

"Khalass" or "خلص" by Borhan Alaouie has just been released into some theaters in Lebanon. It's ashame that this movie isn't showing on a much greater scale. Maybe because it have not been considered as a commercial movie. It should be noted as well that this movie have been shown as well during the Dubai Film Festival where it have been awarded two awards: the Best Screenplay award and Best Editor Award.

Stills from "Khalass"

"Melodram habibi" or "ميلودراما حبيبي" the first feature by Hany Tamba - Director of Beyrouth after shave - is scheduled to be released as well in 2008 with a mix between a french and Lebanese team. We're expecting the best from a Cezar winner.

Making of "Melodrama Habibi"

With three movies scheduled to be released till now, we hope that the year 2008 will be a good year for the Lebanese film industry despite all the political conflict in the country and the region. Some films are still under developement, but the release date is not yet clear, for instance Joanna Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige - Directors of A perfect day - are working on some project with Catherine Deneuve called "Je veux voir".

Photo from "Je veux voir"

Finally, I'll remind that "Caramel" is set to be released in american theaters on February 1st 2008 (distributed by Roadside Attractions). The American trailer can be seen below.

The American trailer for "Caramel"

Friday, November 16, 2007

Beirut after shave - بيروت بعد الحلاقة

"After shave" the award winning short

OK, you must have find it yourself, but I should note that this post will be the first about a short feature, all past posts were orbiting the long features from Lebanon. It's also as you might have find out yourself the first posts where you can watch the whole video that the post is about (not just a trailer). Passing this introduction, if I can call it that, the short tell the story of one man who couldn't accept the death of his wife during the war. The cast was impressive, grouping Rafic Ali Ahmad along with Julia Kassar and having Mahmoud Mabsout and Fadi Raaydi, no wonder it earned the Cezar, what would it got if it was a long!! The story is nicely written, the music is sensual as well (no surprise here since Khaled mouzanar, Caramel's composer is the one who made it for this short, and Labaki chose him after hearing his work in this movie). It was too good for a short, pretty well done. The only regret is that the director didn't hire a Lebanese-only artistic team, it is not bad to have international collaboration, but it would've been good to find what Lebanese can achieve themself. But sometimes this kind of constraints is imposed by the kind of finance a film get. Anyway Hany Tamba did a great job, you can tell yourself since you can watch the whole short here and tell your opinion. We only wish the best for Tamba, and cannot wait to see his new film Melodrama Habibi out.
Below you can find an interview during the filming of "Melodrama Habibi", more interviews about this movie can be found on my youtube channel.

Interview with Hany Tamba about Melodrama Habibi

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Zozo - زوزو

Trailer for "Zozo"

This film is a Lebanese-Swedish movie, directed by the Lebanese-Swedish Joseph Fares. It's not the first to show the Lebanese civil war from children eyes (check for West Beirut, and In the Battlefields) but it shows how the war and its consequences follows a kid beyond the country's borders. So for a boy, once in Sweden, his life is not necessary easier than how it was back in a flaming Lebanon. In fact, I found that in this movie, Zozo's life in Lebanon was full (relatively) of joy, while when he arrived to Sweden it was reduced almost only to disappointments, some may think that it contradicts expectations, some my not share the same opinion, but either way, it was a beautiful way to present such a transition for a young child. In fact, it goes beyond to show how hard for an immigrant (young or old) to integrate into a foreign society (here the grandfather mark a good example).
From what I could've understand, the story is a fiction, but related somewhat to the director's life since he left Lebanon during the civil war when he was ten years old. Following Danielle Arbid and Ziad Doueiri's way to make peace with their past.
Globally the film was good, make fair use of special effects (I think that funding films in Sweden is easier than Lebanon). Actors were pretty good as well; Antoinette Turk's (playing Rita) acted nicely,
Imad Creidi's (as Zozo) role surprised me with his Swedish language and good performance for a child of his age. And then there is Carmen Lebbos, playing perfectly, as she always do, the mother role model.
The script was nicely written from a child eyes, things go smoothly. Though I should point to some minor flaws that come up when trying to see things rationally. For instance, how can a ten years old child go from east Beirut to the mountains (walking??!), then to the airport that easy in a city shredded into two parts? Then once in Sweden writing to Rita without having her address.
In the end I remind that this feature was the representative for Sweden for the 78th academy awards. It needs to be seen since it's a nicely done good movie.

Monday, October 8, 2007


"S.L.Film" Poster

So how many comedy Lebanese film you know. Till now, I know only one: S.L.Film, a long feature from the once popular TV show S.L.Shi. Unfortunately, in early 2000's, the show ended few years ago after closing the host TV station following some political conflict that time. The show consisted of short sketches caricaturing the Lebanese way of life. So the long feature came to combine all the known characters of the show into one consistent story. Many of the actors played more than one role, but the most notable acting was, with no doubt, Fadi Raaydi, who incarnated the role of both Fadia El-Sharreka and Pippo. The film is light, you wont stop laughing as long as the movie is showing, although it might require that you are aware of Lebanon's culture (and maybe the show). But you will be more than pleased in the end. The story is simple, the comedy is light, characters are lovely; in short, the best combination a comedy film can get.
Actually, the actors are working in some other similar kind of shows (you can consider them as a "fork" of S.L.Shi) or even talk-shows. Director Shadi Hanna is now directing some TV shows on Rotana TV, and music video clips.
I found that the film was a successful comedy experience, and a bit disapointed that no other comedy films have been produced since!

P.S. I'm launching a call joining the two others for anyone who have the trailer of this movie, as well as the original score and its music video (very funny one) to contact me.

Friday, September 21, 2007

When Maryam spoke out - لمّا حكيت مريم

"When Maryam spoke out" DVD poster

The most dramatic Lebanese film I've seen yet. So the movie, which is based on a real story, is about a woman called Maryam who lives with her husband happily until they decide, after some pressure from their community, to try to get pregnant. And the rest of the film shows the ways that Maryam takes in order to keep her husband.
Assad Fouladkar, the director, was the among first (to my knowledge) to have enough courage to attack such issues in the Lebanese society. He was able to collect some awards with his feature, and the Lebanese public as well; the film was a success in Lebanon despite the fact that it was screened in one to two theaters.
The drama was too strong, I was amazed with the acting role of Talal El-Jordi, and especially the performance of Bernadet Hodeib, she's one of the most talented youth Lebanese actresses.
I Hope we see other similar movies in the near future, although Fouladkar is now directing Egyptian series, I'm sure he'll gain success, but I personally prefer see his name on movies like this one. So, as you might already guessed, this movie strongly worth being watched.

P.S. I wasn't able to find the trailer of this movie, so I'm giving another call for anyone who have this trailer to send it to me.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Bosta - بوسطة

Trailer for "Bosta"

This film was a great hit in Lebanon. It was presented as a "100% Lebanese feature film". It's somewhat true since only few Lebanese movies get funding from Lebanese investors. Philippe Aractingi, the writer and director, managed to create a tourism film showing a big part of Lebanese touristic sites.
So as you may already know, the story is about Dabkeh, the traditional Lebanese dance. A group of youth trying to renovate it, and getting rejected by some committee. The story is a bit light, but cheering, colorful,... Some critics called this feature as a Bollywood movie, the director prefers however to put it in Cedarwood category.
Actors were well chosen. Personally, I preferred Liliane Nemri, she always adds a special flavor whenever she contributes to a movie. Sabah appearance gave the movie some extra points. SuperStar presence was notable as well: Rouweida Attieh got a guest role in the movie, Abir Ne'meh dubbed Nadine's voice when singing.
This film does not try to be deep, but surely you'll enjoy it.
Waiting the coming Aractingi movie "Under the bombs", it got its first projection at Venice film festival where it got two awards: the EIUC Human Rights Award and the ARCA Prize for Youths.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

A perfect day - يوم اخر

Trailer for "A perfect day"

The story of A perfect day, like its name indicates, happens only in one day. It starts with a mother speaking to her sleeping son, trying to communicate messages during his sleep with a hope to get its effect during the awakening. It's about ghosts that are haunting the city and/or the country. They are the men that have been disappeared during the civil war, and their families still living with their ghosts ... It's mainly the idea of the film, the role of the mother and son will consist on how they are living in denial and trying to accept that fact (you'll find that both are living the two situation, but in a different way). Discussion are rare in this movie. In fact, during the last half-hour there are some five words that have been exchanged, but this doesn't stop communication by breathing, sleeping, touch, ... Julia Kassar's acting was enchanting, it almost eclipses the roles of other actors, but we should not forget that she's an experienced talented lady after all.
While watching, you see everything done right, but yet feeling that it doesn't reflect real Lebanese life. I'm not aware of the background of the directors/writers, but in the situation that the main characters were playing, you can notice that religion was forced out of the scene. You might understand that for the youth in the film, but with the mother, and her neighborhood, you feel it somewhat wrong.
Overall, I found the pictures in the film ran smoothly ... I was a bit disappointed though that I've seen A lost man before I saw this one, since this one looked for me as a prequel of the latest Arbid movie. I found both discussing the same issue but from different point of view. In this one, Joanna Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige centered their story around the family of a disappeared man, while Danielle Arbid approach followed the path of what've been thought as a man who disappeared during the civil war. Both approach where great, and I found that when you watch both, you cannot ignore the links between both movies.
You should not miss a nice meaningful movie.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The last man - أطلال

Poster for "The last man"

The last man (Le dernier homme or أطلال ) is one of the few Lebanese films (and maybe the first one) that tries to draw a completely fictional film which have nothing to do with the real life in Lebanon. After all who said that a film should represent the life of the country where it came from? It's a thriller movie that does not try to scare: A doctor who's feeling that something not right, keeps finding dead people that he knows، their blood being sucked from their bodies. The hero have a very difficult role where he got to act alone in lots of scenes.
Some shots with a tap dancer where added to the film to "add beauty to the film in the same way an artist adds colors to a painting" as the director Ghassan Salhab said.
Although that this kind of movie isn't intended to the large audience, I found it original and worth seeing.
I wasn't able to find its trailer anywhere, I'd appreciate if someone who have it, would send it to me.

Friday, August 17, 2007

In the Battlefields - معارك حب

In the battlefields trailer

In the battlefields is among my preferred Lebanese films. It's an auto-biography of the writer/director Danielle Arbid, mixed with some fiction. Although the story tells how a friendship between two girls of different ages evolves through the time of war, throughout the film we see that this friendship became more important for the little girl than the family relation itself. Some may find the film itself as violent, but before coming to such conclusion, is there a way to escape this fact when we tell a story about the time of war?
One of the best scenes there is when Arbid gets in the car (yes there is a shot when Arbid appears in the film), and the old lebanese song starts. I liked as well Carmen Lebbos acting, she's a really skilled actress, we found her in a great part of new Lebanese films as a mother, but a different one every time.
The ending scene is a success: I loved it, yet we see in a way a similar ending scene in the coming film "A lost man".
Even though the film is the first long feature film for Arbid, I found it reflecting life in war in an honest way. The film was awarded in Cannes 2004 during the Directors' Fortnight. But I was a bit astound that the film weren't celebrated in Lebanon with a huge croud, Maybe because Lebanese during that period weren't interrested of hearing about a war that they thought they put it behind ... After all the real issue that the film was discussing is about the cause of that civil war that ravaged Lebanon for some 15+ years (is it really over). It shows that the war started from inside, since even in the same family no one can support the other. Denying though the claims that it's the others war on Lebanese soil (it might be true, but if Lebanese weren't an accepting subject it wouldn't happen). I really appreciated how the director elaborated this idea into the movie in such a successful manner, and don't think that it have been studied this way by anyone before.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Lost Man - رجل ضائع

Trailer for the film a lost man

A lost man (Un Homme Perdu in French - رجل ضائع in Arabic) is a film by Danielle Arbid, this is her second feature film and the second one to be selected for the Directors' Fortnight (Quinzaine des Realisateurs) at Cannes film festival 2007.
When she introduced this movie she said you'll like it or hate it, but can't be in between. Well, I believe that I fell in the "like it" category, because this film was great: the storyline was deep, acting and directing made the movie look pretty realistic, more than a documentary.

Something I didn't expect in the film, which I liked, was the way it shows the "underground" nightlife in the Arab world (Notably Jordan), this side of the Arab culture that no media talks about, a taboo subject that every body knows the existence but yet in denial !!! I appreciated as well the way Danielle attacked the problem of those who disappeared during the last civil war. Another thing is the way she integrated in her story two totally different persons, a French and an Arab, yet managed to show resemblance, something not that intuitive to detect.
I loved it, and I strongly recommend it.
It's due to be released in France in late 2007 or early 2008 (December - January)

Finally, I would like to note that the language of the film was a combination of Arabic and French (natural since the two leading actors represent different culture). The film contain as well around four erotic scenes, something we're not used to see in Arab (in particular Lebanese) movies. This was the reason I believe why the film wont be shown in Arab countries as the director stated. Something I found bad.

Update: Scenes and Trailer from the film were added.

Press Conference and Film projection with Danielle Arbid at Cannes 2007

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Falafel - فلافل

Falafel Trailer

Falafel (Arabic: فلافل ) is a film directed by Michel Kammoun. This film tells the story of a young Lebanese who got humiliated during a party in front of his (to be) girlfriend, and seeks for vengeance afterwards.
The film was presented in many festivals, and got some honors. Notably, it was premiered during Beyrouth film festival 2006, a month after the Israeli war against Lebanon ended.
From my point of view, I found the film a bit dark since it was almost exclusively shot during the night. It was a way to show the nightlife of Lebanese youth, but also what can oppression lead to. In all, and from what the director said, the movie shows potential events (something that might or not happen in the future), but not events themselves. The story was well built, actors were well chosen, especially when it's the first role for the most of them, and for the rest of the cast, I should note that the professionals like Rafic Ali Ahmad, Adel Karam, Hiam Abou Chedid and others perfromance was outstanding, even if their appearance was relatively brief for few minutes (personally, Rafic Ali Ahmad was the one I liked the most). We should note as well the appearance of the director in a relatively short shot in the film (as the owner of the Falafel shop).
Although the film genre is a bit special, I believe that everyone can enjoy watching it.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Caramel - سكر بنات

The trailer of Caramel by Nadine Labaki

I was able to watch this movie, the first feature movie by Nadine Labaki. I highly recommend watching it. In fact, no 5 minutes pass without laughing, but this doesn't mean that there were no strong drama scenes. Actors were too good, although it's the first experience for the majority. Everything was very well done from lighting, costume design, music, cinematography, storyline, ... I was really impressed in the way the director/writer choose to end the movie with this great last scene (the one just before the credits), for me I found it too strong, yet very beautiful.
In short this film is a success!!

After the projection Anne-Dominique Toussaint explained that the film was sold up to 35 countries including US and major European countries. It is expected to start showing in France starting august 14. Unfortunately, it was delayed in Lebanon due to current events, although it was planned to be released June 14.

N.B. If you wish to see the movie in an avant-premiere, it is planned to screen as the opening movie of the festival Paris Cinema 2007 (3-14 July).

You can found here and here the press conference at Cannes 2007 and the Film projection at Cannes during the Directors' Fortnight session (La Quinzaine des Realisateurs).
Don't forget to check the wikipedia article as well.

Update: A short trailer with french subtitltes is available now, as well as some trailers on the official website. You can find them as well here or below.
The Film has been scheduled to be released in the US on February 1st 2008. The US trailer can be found here.
La bande-annonce sous-titrée en français est désormais disponible sur le site officiel du film ou ici.

"Caramel" Music video

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The kite - طيارة من ورق

Trailer for the Kite

The kite (le cerf-volant - طيارة من ورق) has been released on 2003 in Lebanon. It tells a story of young girl who lives in a small druze town in the south of Lebanon near the occupied zone that was controlled by Israel after the 1982 invasion. She was forced to get married to another young boy in a town across the occupied zone. Although the story didn't focus on the Israeli actions during that sad period of occupation, one can easily sense from the film the misery of Lebanese near influence of those occupation forces.
Julia Kassar and Liliane Nemri were great in their acting role. Director Randa Chahal Sabagh successfully reflected the misery of Lebanese near the influence of those Israeli occupation forces without making it as the main subject in the storyline. The film was a drama with a bit of humor every once and then, and having Ziad Rahbani in the movie (even if it was guest star role) gives the film another flavor, while the ending was a bit unexpected.
It's noteworthy that the film collected some 3 awards in the Venice Film Festival 2003, apart some nominations in other film festivals. As its precedents in this blog, watching this movie is strongly recommended.
Waiting Randa Chahal next feature movie ...

Saturday, June 23, 2007

West Beirut - بيروت الغربية

Trailer for West Beirut
Released in 1998, this film was a hit in Lebanon. This was one of the very first films to be produced after the 1975-1990 civil war. Ziad Doueiri the director managed with success to present a movie with great style. You might think that there is some Quentin Tarantino's style, you should not be surprised since Ziad Doueiri was first assistant camera for Pulp Fiction. But he sure made his own style.
The movie was presented during the Directors Fortnight during the Cannes Film Festival 1998 and got some award there. The film got as well the International Critics' Award in Toronto International Film Festival 1998 apart other awards. This alone wont prove that this film is great. All you should do is to watch it yourself and see what I mean.
I simply loved the film, the storyline was great : Teens life during the war. They don't care about religion, and the way they see solution to the problems might be the right solution ... The way he used humor, although the theme was war, touched me: In fact this way the film was showing how Lebanese overcome problems using humor. I loved all actors performance: the beatiful Rola Al Amin (May), Mohamad Chamas (Omar) and all the rest. But I appreciated the most Carmen Lebbos who shows great acting skills in all means. I only question Rami Doueiri's acting (the brother of the director), he wasn't able to make me feel that he's not acting, it wasn't that bad but I felt something was wrong, but I'm not sure about that neither, maybe the director wanted to give this teenager this kind of character. Even though the overall result was more than satisfying. This film is a must see movie for all lebanese.