A film festival that embodies the meanings of existence and survival in Beirut after the tragedy of the port

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Neither the difficult economic conditions in Lebanon nor the Corona virus prevented movie lovers from gathering again to enjoy watching a bouquet of short films


(Photo by JOSEPH EID/AFP via Getty Images)

Which deals with issues of repression, freedom, immigration and others.
In the open air on the staircase of Gemmayzeh in the neighborhood badly damaged by the explosion of Beirut’s port last year, viewers of all ages sat watching the screenings of the Cabriolet Short Film Festival, which lasted for three days from the fourth to the sixth of June.
Sarah Sfeir, one of those who attended the opening, said, “For such a long time, we did not go back. We sat with Hald Alem (this large number of people). We did not go back and attended the film.”
The festival program, which presents its shows for free on six screens and raises the slogan (Existence), includes 56 films dealing with the meanings of existence and survival in a series of tapes signed by directors from Lebanon, Europe, the United States and Australia.
The festival opened its activities on Friday evening with the film (The Hakam Al-Azaar) by the young Lebanese director Fayez Abu Khattar, which deals with the story of a young man who decided to protest against the Lebanese regime.
19 films were shown on the first night, including the movie (Aida) by the Lebanese Hanin Abi Khalil, and there was an Arab participation by the Egyptian Basma Sharif and her movie (Mercy).
On the second night, 18 films were shown, including (Room 16) by Lebanese actress Carol Abboud and directed by Danny Saliba, for which he won the Best Director Award at the European Film Festival in London.
Ibrahim Samaha, founder of the festival, said, “This year, the slogan is he chose himself. Existence was because we are now in an existential state and we can’t complete the festival for the thirteenth year. I mean, continuity is the basis for it.”
The Lebanese director and actress Nadine Labaki, who was chosen as the artistic face of the festival, had released a video recording a few days ago on her Instagram account under the title (A Message of Hope) to invite to the festival.

“Beirut never dies”
Labaki also appeared to the audience in an audio recording at the opening of the festival, in which she said, “Our dreams are many and our ambitions are great, and the art about us sells and sells the world, even the painful arguments, because we were here and we will stay.”
Labaki’s appearance came according to a tradition that the festival follows every year by choosing a director or actor, bearing his name in his honor.
Zina Yassin, who participated as an assistant director in the opening film, told Reuters that “Gemmayzeh did not die and remained in its glory despite the explosion.”
She added, “Heidi is the culture of the Lebanese, that we have survived many wars. It is very nice that we saw a world that was helping in the tragedy. Now we see it helping in a few days, with more joy and more hope.”
The explosion of Beirut Port on August 4, 2020, killed about 200 people, caused great financial losses and destroyed several neighborhoods in the Lebanese capital. The outbreak of the Corona pandemic and the failure to form a new government also contributed to the deterioration of the political and social conditions.
One of the viewers, Mohamed Sabbagh, said that the scene of the movie screenings on Gemmayzeh amphitheater is a source of pride, as he was able to bring this place back to life ten months after the harbor explosion.
He added to Reuters, “People here are recovering their wounds, but Beirut does not die. The world does not die in Beirut. This is a very sweet thing. We return to see Beirut halfway away, 200 meters from the site of the explosion.”

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