Local filmmakers will be showcasing their work throughout this week at the Lebanese Film Week, organized by MC distribution and Metropolis Cinema.
The event aims at showcasing and promoting Lebanese films made in the past three years.
It will take place in two different venues, VOX Cinemas at Beirut City Centre and Institut Francais du Liban, where spectators can attend for free by booking online in advance
“It’s especially [important] that it is with Metropolis Cinema, which is one of my favorite places in Beirut,” said Wissam Tanios, 32, independent filmmaker and director of We Are from There, which will be screened on Thursday.
“I used to go a lot to Sofil when Metropolis still had physical venues. This organization means a lot to me, because it also shaped my cinematic taste, as we do not have much access to festival movies in Lebanon unless it’s with MC Distribution or Metropolis Cinema.”
Metropolis in recent years
Before the economic collapse and the COVID-19 pandemic hit Lebanon, Metropolis had venues in Beirut that were home to independent films, in contrast to the blockbusters that aired in other movie theatres.
The modest cinema was located in centre Sofil, Ashrafieh, and acted as home to multiple film festivals and independent filmmakers over the years.
In January 2020, the cinema announced its indefinite closure due to the financial troubles caused by the overlapping crises. It had previously attempted to secure funds and remain in service, but to no avail. The closure raised many concerns over the status of the film industry in Lebanon, with many growing concerned that this would be the beginning of the industry’s decline.
Six months later, in June 2020, Metropolis Cinema announced it was coming back with film events organized in different venues. Ever since, it has been consistently promoting various forms of cinema across Lebanon, collaborating with local venues to launch film festivals and more.
The news was lovingly welcomed and celebrated by independent film lovers – some of whom, like Tanios, see this cinema as their introduction into artistic, festival-worthy movies.
“We got to see those movies through them,” he added, saying he feels especially happy to be partaking in this film week with the group. “It is an organization that resembles me and resembles what I like. I feel like I belong to those values and objectives.”
Tanios’ film, We Are from There, is about two Syrian brothers who leave everything behind to start a new life in a foreign city, showcasing the struggles of living away from your physical, and social home.
“The story is not just about physical migration, it’s a mental migration to move from a place to another,” Tanios said. “[The characters] are in a country where they cannot read what is on the advertisements in the streets because they do not speak the language. It’s a story of adaptation, or the consequences one faces when they leave.”
Tanios’ aim is for his story to be universal, for everyone to relate to his characters’ challenges. He joins a diverse group of films telling largely universal stories through a local lens.
As the art scene in Lebanon continues to face mounting difficulties due to Lebanon’s economic collapse, artists and organizations attempt to preserve what is left of it through events such as the Lebanese Film Week.
The Lebanese Film Week launched on Monday, October 24 and is ongoing until Sunday, October 30. The full program can be found here.