Sponsoring cultural progress through cinema

The Beirut International Film Festival (BIIF) is a yearly cultural event during which some of the best productions in the international cinema industry are screened over a week’s time. Encouraging insightful art cinema as well as in-depth portrayals of current events, BIIF has gradually acquired a well-earned standing within the Lebanese cinema scene.

For many years now, the Société Générale de Banque au Liban (SGBL) has been a loyal partner of the BIIF. True to the principles of art sophistication and cultural awareness constantly upheld by Chairman and CEO Antoun Sehnaoui, the bank sees this regular sponsorship endeavor as an essential tradition that all major economic actors should endorse in light of the role that cinema and film currently play in promoting fresh thinking and fostering alternative points of views.

It is with the full realization of this potential that Chairman Antoun Sehnaoui has remained an unwavering supporter of the art cinema industry. Given his keenness to promote one of humanity’s foremost medium of expression, it is no wonder that, beyond SGBL’s partnership with BIIF, Mr. Sehnaoui has ventured into more cinema projects than any other Lebanese banker to date.

A long-time acquaintance of reputed BIIF director Colette Naufal, Mr. Sehnaoui is himself versed into the complexities of film production, having studied and specialized in film directing and editing at the George Lucas School of the University of South California (USC) in 1994, one year after having graduated from a master in international finance at USC.

Ever since his return from the United States, Mr. Sehnaoui has progressively invested resources in collaborative enterprises such as Ezekiel Productions or Rouge International, partnering up with the likes of Julie Gayet, Nadia Turincev, Olivier Assayas, Diana Gaye or Ziad Doueiri. By surrounding himself with these prominent cinephiles and producers, Mr. Sehnaoui has strived to implement his vision of cinema whereby modern technology and human creativity perfectly combine.

Indeed, Antoun Sehnaoui views cinema as the perfect meeting point between human emotions and digital technology. With the help of close partners Julie Gayet and Nadia Turincev, the SGBL CEO has already tapped into this potential combination and has supported a number of acclaimed productions such as Bonsai by Cristian Jimenez, Mimomas by Oliver Laxe (Grand Prix Nespresso) and Grave by Julia Ducourneau (Prix Fipresci), art films that Rouge International and Ezekiel successfully brought to the Cannes festival through the International Critics Week.

Antoun Sehnaoui’s aspiration is to encourage the development of cinema as a tool for expressing human sensitivity. It is with this motivation in mind that he perseveres in his support for producers, investing in a number of diverse works currently in the making via Ezekiel and Rouge International. These projects involve, amongst others, the above mentioned Cristian Jimenez, but also 2015 Palme d’Or laureate for short films Ely Dagher, Argentinian stage director Alejandro Fadel, singer Vincent Delerm, and promising author Karim Rahbani.

By bringing together determination, resources and talent, these projects are at the forefront of SGBL’s commitment to bring out the transformative power of arts in human thought. And it is thanks to entrepreneurs such as Antoun Sehnaoui that such commitments can and are still being made despite all the odds set against creative art productions. This is why it would be hard to find a better reference than Mr. Sehnaoui for authentic cinema sponsorship in modern day Lebanon.

Image Credit: beirutfilmfestival.org

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