Lebanon lacks public policy for culture and arts, but there are numerous efforts to maintain cultural diversity and develop a richer cinema culture. Several initiatives have emerged over the years to fill a gap that the government bodies have not been able to assist with. Lately, local and international associations such as Goethe Institute and Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) continue to fund projects that directly aim to promote arts and culture in Lebanon and the Arab World. Film festivals, competitions, and film related events are put together to showcase film productions as well as provide budding film talent the opportunity to meet with experts and critics to continue improving and developing their craft. Two initiatives aiming to promote talent in film were organized this year, Talents Beirut and the Metropolis Film Competition.
Talents Beirut, a branch of Berlinale Talents held in Berlin, is a project that launched its first event in Beirut in September of 2014 to support film creators from across the Arab world, showcasing their work and connecting novices with experts in the industry. One main goal of the initiative was to provide an environment to foster innovation and creativity in filmmaking. The organizers invited 20 artists and technicians to a series of workshops, trainings and talks, with the goal of promoting new approaches and conceptual techniques in cinematography, film editing, sound design and score composition. These key aspects of filmmaking were chosen due to the limited focus they have received in the Arab World recently. The participants as well as the public received the event very well and it will be no surprise that another similar event would be held soon.
Another group supporting film talent is the Metropolis Art Cinema Association created in 2006 to promote film and cinema in Lebanon and make all aspects available to the Lebanese public. Metropolis Association in Beirut celebrated its 10th anniversary by launching a short film competition with the theme ‘A moment inside a cinema’. Participants between the ages of 16 and 30 were invited to share their perspective on a cinema experience in a film between 30 seconds to 3 minutes. Some examples of experiences include venturing in a dark room, sitting facing the screen, reminiscing one’s first memory of cinema, or one’s first cinematic astonishment, being heavily affected or relentlessly indifferent to moving images, or recalling a singular memory spent in a cinema theatre. The association even awarded 2 winning films in a public ceremony on the 8th of July 2016 at 8 PM at Metropolis-Empire Sofil. These events are two of several initiatives aiming to promote creative and innovative art expression by emerging Arab talent.
Lebanon has always prided itself in being a cultural hub for the region but also in the world. Through the years, festivals and events have attracted thousands to come enjoy creations and performances from various Lebanese artists. The seventh art, cinema, should be no exception. Lebanon boasts a budding creative and extremely gifted youth, which deserves to be invested in and supported. NGOs and governmental agencies need to work hand in hand to help nurture and develop this still young art in Lebanon. After all, in a world dominated by the moving picture, cinema productions play a big role in exporting Lebanese culture to the region and the world.
Image Credit: metropoliscinema.net