Lebanon gets another film festival

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The Lebanese Independent Film Festival opened its three-day program Thursday night, celebrating independent films from Lebanon and around the world.

Staged at Metropolis Cinema-Sofil through July 14, the festival’s first edition will project 160 international films from 20 countries, all made by aspiring filmmakers within the last two years.

“The vision of LIFF is to establish Lebanon as a center for local and international filmmakers to share global perspectives as well as independent thoughts to a large audience through film,” LIFF director Gauthier-Charbel Raad told The Daily Star. “Its goal is to enhance cultural growth.”

True to its mission to support cultural diversity and connect a varied audience, the festival program comprises an eclectic mix of genres, hoping to have something for all.

“With independent films and panels on various topics addressed to a diverse audience, the festival will ensure the promotion of diversity and present an alternative healing tool for the Lebanese society,” Raad said.

“We will have fiction, shorts and documentaries, features, local and international [as well as] animation and a script competition.”

Hosting Ayyam Beirut al-Cinema’iya (and Beirut Cinema Platform, its associated yearly industry event), the Beirut International Film Festival and Lebanese Film Festival, (as well as the European Film Festival’s student film competition) Lebanon’s not short of platforms where aspiring local filmmakers’ can show and develop their work.

But Raad believes LIFF has something new to bring to the table.

“I am proud to say that this is the first one that gives independent filmmakers and producers the opportunity to meet and network and then to screen their movies,” he claimed.

“At the grand opening, international and local filmmakers and producers are going to gather to celebrate this film festival.”

Raad said LIFF received 500 submissions, of which the festival’s selection committee (which doubles as its jury) chose 260 to show; but said Lebanon’s censor denied screening permission for 100 of these.

The opening night included Destinee Stuart’s six-minute drama “Truth of Us,” which explores the difference between a life lived in a lie and one of telling the truth.

“You Racist, Sexist, Bigot” by Matty Steinkamp and Pita Gorez, looks at the different types of discrimination minorities face.

LIFF will distribute awards at its closing ceremony.

“A student’s competition was launched among universities across Lebanon, and LIFF [screened] the short films on the opening night of the festival,” Raad said.

“The prize for male hope award and female hope award will be given to the winners by our distinctively selected jury of 11, which include actresses Rita Hayek and Christine Choueiri,” he added.

A diversity award and a Mediterranean award will also be handed out. Raad wants to further expand LIFF next year, as well as preparing to organize screenings in Tyr and other parts if Lebanon in September.

For the full program visit liffofficial.com

Source: The Daily Star