Adonis Diaries

Archive for February 24th, 2016

Revoke the censorship ban of “In this land lay graves of mine”

In June 2015, Lebanese filmmaker Reine Mitri was notified by the General Security Directorate that her documentary film “In this land lay graves of mine” is banned from screening in cinemas, upon the decision of the Minister of Interior based on a recommendation by the Censorship Committee whose head Andre Kassas declared that the film provokes sectarian strife.

The film tackles the subject of forced displacements and massacres that happened during the civil war, through the testimonies of people from different communities who experienced them and through archive photos.

The film shows how fear is still perpetuated between communities through what is called “cadastral war”.

Banning this film represents the State’s intention and ways in continuing to obliterate the memory of the war and its victims by imposing a censorship system based on a loose and subjective law (dated 1947) allowing the individuals and institutions that protect the sectarian system to interpret it according to their own criteria and the necessities of protecting the regime, acting as if people are minor and need someone to decide for them.

These State policies forbid any constructive debate among citizens and prevent openness aimed at true reconciliation that prevents sectarian strife and civil war.

Facing the insistence of the Censorship Committee and the Minister of Interior on the decision to ban the film, Reine Mitri appealed the decision through a lawsuit in front of the Council of State (in 10/26/2015) asking the Council of State to revoke the ban decision.

In defense of freedom of expression and the duty of memory, you may sign this petition addressed to the Lebanese State (a copy of which will be deposited at the various ministries represented in the Censorship Committee and the General Security).

Note: Civil wars that ends with NO victors is a hotbed preparing for another war



Arab cinema snatched the spotlight at the 2016 Berlin International Film Festival.

The Berlinale Festival recently concluded after running from Feb. 11 to 21.

More than 10 Arab films participated in the Berlinale’s Forum and Forum Expanded programs this year

Not only have a notably large number of Arab films screened to approving audiences throughout this year’s event, but many of them have also won significant awards at the prestigious event.

Tunisian, Saudi, Palestinian, Lebanese and Egyptian directors snatched the spotlight at Berlinale.

The Tunisian film “Inhebek Hedi,” the work of Tunisian filmmaker Mohamed Ben Attia, received two of the Berlinale’s top honors.

Attia’s debut feature film, a thoughtful love story about identity and independence in Tunisian society, won the Best First Feature Award.

Its leading man, Majd Mastoura, also received the prestigious Silver Bear for Best Actor for his role as Hedi.

Palestinian director Mahdi Fleifel’s portrayal of a young refugee struggling to make a life for himself in Lebanon’s Ain El-Helweh camp was also honored.

A Man Returned” won the Silver Bear Jury Prize for Short Film.

The filmmaker used to be a refugee himself and previously made an award-winning documentary about his own experience. The short film was also selected as the Berlin Short Film Nominee for the European Film Awards.

As for the prizes of the Ecumenical Jury, Saudi filmmaker Mahmoud Sabbagh‘s well-received romantic comedy “Barakah Yoqabil Barakah” (Barakah Meets Barakah) won the jury’s Forum Prize.

The film, a comedic love story serving as a social commentary on the lives of young people in Saudi Arabia, shared the prize with Danish production “Les Sauteurs” (Those Who Jump) – a film that also highlights the plight of Europe-bound refugees.

Additionally, Egyptian filmmaker Tamer El-Said’s feature film “Akher Ayam El-Madina” (In the Last Days of the City) won the Caligari Film Prize.

The film, which looks at a young filmmaker’s struggle to complete a film about Cairo, was the only Egyptian film to participate in the 2016 Berlinale Forum.

Lebanese filmmaker Maher Abi Samra’s documentary “Makhdoumin” (A Maid for Each), which looks at the legal system that controls the lives of Lebanon’s foreign domestic workers, won the Peace Film Prize.

More than 10 Arab films participated in the Berlinale’s Forum and Forum Expanded programs this year, in addition to the ones which participated in the official competitions, marking an especially remarkable year for Arab cinema’s presence in Berlin.

Umberto Eco, Italian novelist and intellectual, dies aged 84

I have read a couple of Eco’s books, including The Name of the Rose and Foucault’s Pendulum

Born on 5 January 1932 in Alessandria, north-west Italy, Eco rejected his father’s wish that he study law and instead read philosophy and literature at the University of Turin.

20 February 2016

The celebrated Italian intellectual Umberto Eco, who shot to fame with his 1980 novel The Name of the Rose, has been remembered as a master of Italian culture after his death at the age of 84.

Eco died on Friday night after suffering from cancer, prompting tributes to pour in for the esteemed writer.

He was “an extraordinary example of a European intellectual, combining unique intelligence of the past with a limitless capacity to anticipate the future”, said Italy’s prime minister, Matteo Renzi.

“It’s an enormous loss for culture, which will miss his writing and voice, his sharp and lively thought, and his humanity,” Renzi told the Ansa news agency.

Italy’s culture minister, Dario Franceschini, said Eco remained youthful until his last day. “A master who brought Italian culture to the whole world,” Franceschini wrote on Twitter.

Leading daily Corriere della Sera called Eco “the writer who changed Italian culture”, while newspaper La Stampa described a country in mourning for the author’s death.

Through Eco’s academic writings and his bestselling books, he became a respected intellectual voice both in Italy and abroad.

Internationally, he remains best known for his bestseller The Name of the Rose, a medieval detective novel set in an Italian abbey, which follows Brother William of Baskerville as he investigates a series of suspicious deaths. The novel captured imaginations globally and was turned into a film starring Sean Connery as William

The work secured Eco’s international reputation and he went on to pen a number of other novels, including Foucault’s Pendulum in 1988.

His most recent work, Numero Zero, was published last year and centres on a new newspaper in Milan funded by a meddling tycoon. Later this year a final novel will be released posthumously, Italian media reported.

Although Eco’s works sold millions of copies, he was not one to pander to popular tastes. “It’s only publishers and some journalists who believe that people want simple things. People are tired of simple things. They want to be challenged,” he told the Guardian in 2011.

While his first novel was not published until 1980, Eco said he had always had a “narrative impulse” and began writing stories at the age of 10 or 12.

Born on 5 January 1932 in Alessandria, north-west Italy, Eco rejected his father’s wish that he study law and instead read philosophy and literature at the University of Turin.

After he finished his doctoral thesis, Eco lectured at his alma mater and during the same period worked at Italy’s state broadcaster, RAI, as a cultural editor.

He went on to develop his interest in semiotics, the study of signs and symbols, and became a professor of the subject at the University of Bologna.

His significant academic writings include On Beauty and the later On Ugliness, exploring how people’s perceptions are shaped through history.

George Lakoff, a professor of cognitive linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, credited his friend with changing academia’s approach to literature by giving respectability to the study of popular art forms.

“He showed how not only to understand culture, in general, but to create new culture that way. That is what this man was about,” Lakoff told the BBC World Service.

“Not only he loved it, he enjoyed every minute of it. To be with Eco was to just enjoy life.”

Beirut is a moving fair: French author Katherine Pancol

Jean C. El Dahdah shared this link. February 19, 2016

Beyrouth est une fête…

Katherine Pancol. Écrivain

Ça y est! Je reprends goût à la vie! Alors, que vous raconter?

Que le Liban est une bouteille de champagne posée sur un volcan et qu’à Beyrouth, la fête est perpétuelle, frénétique comme une avance que les habitants prennent sur la vie et le prochain conflit…

Les Libanais sont les gens les plus accueillants, les plus affectueux, les plus gais, les plus entreprenants, les plus insouciants, les plus généreux du monde.

La vie, ils l’inventent à chaque minute de peur qu’on ne la leur confisque.

Ils ont cette intuition terrible: la guerre peut surgir n’importe quand, alors vivons pleinement, aimons, dansons, buvons du café noir, du café blanc, fumons de longs narguilés, ouvrons des boutiques, des restaurants, construisons, traînons dans les rues, faisons des carnavals, inventons, célébrons, oublions les feux rouges, l’interdiction de fumer, vivons, vivons, vivons…

Beyrouth est une fête.

Ils ne savent pas d’où le danger va surgir pour leur tomber sur la tête. Le Liban est une immense boîte à lettres où chaque pays voisin fait passer un message en posant des bombes, en assassinant, en écharpant…

Ce ne sont pas les Libanais qui font la guerre, ce sont les pays autour qui se font la guerre via le Liban.

J’étais allée au Liban une première fois, il y a douze ans. Le pays était alors en pleine reconstruction… après une guerre.

Des gratte-ciel surgissaient au milieu des décombres, des camions déblayaient des tonnes de gravats, les façades étaient criblées de balles, on apercevait, béants au soleil, des bouts de cuisine, de salle de bains, de chambre à coucher, la poussière s’élevait en gros nuages gris qui montaient vers un ciel toujours bleu… et les voitures klaxonnaient, klaxonnaient!

J’avais déjà été frappée par l’énergie qui vibrait dans l’air. On pouvait la saisir à pleines mains et en faire des éclairs.

Douze ans après (et après bien d’autres guerres!), Beyrouth est toujours debout, les buildings en verre lèchent le ciel, des rues montent et descendent comme à San Francisco délimitant un vieux quartier et des quartiers de luxe, des quartiers d’affaires, des rues du soir, des rues de la nuit, des rues qui grouillent, grouillent.

Tout le monde se mélange à Beyrouth et, semble t-il, dans la bonne humeur…

C’est une impression, je ne suis pas restée assez longtemps, mais je n’ai ressenti aucune tension entre les différentes communautés. Il y a des femmes en mini-jupes et des femmes voilées, des hommes en djellaba et d’autres en costume cravate et tout le monde vit ensemble.

J’ai couru au Musée de Beyrouth voir les statuettes des guerriers phéniciens…

De longues et minces silhouettes semblables à des Giacometti.

J’ai appris à traverser les rues en étendant le bras, en joignant les mains, en cambrant les reins tel le torero face au noir taureau dans l’arène, en suppliant qu’on ne m’écrase pas!

Il faut ployer, sautiller, frôler la tôle, feinter et passer… pour rejoindre des trottoirs qui font office de garde-meubles, garages, dernier salon où l’on cause.

J’ai compris que les feux rouges sont faits pour être brûlés, sauf les “importants” où l’on consent à s’arrêter, les cigarettes à griller dans tous les restaurants et la vitesse à être constamment dépassée…

J’ai bu du café turc sur la Corniche au bord de la mer. On était en novembre, il faisait 28 ° et la mer me chatouillait les pieds.

J’ai marché dans les rues avec Rachid El Daif, un auteur libanais qui a écrit un très bon roman paru chez Actes Sud, “Qu’elle aille au diable, Meryl Streep!”, et nous sommes allés nous poser dans les jardins du café Al Rawda…

J’ai parlé avec Tania, éditrice, qui se bat pour sauver les vieilles maisons de Beyrouth de la convoitise des spéculateurs immobiliers, avec Katya qui peint, j’ai déjeuné au People avec Dédy, un ami tombé dans les livres quand il était petit, dîné avec Émile, libraire chez Virgin, j’ai été invitée partout, partout et chaque fois, reçue les bras grands ouverts et la gourmandise aux lèvres.

Les Libanais sont curieux, raffinés, cosmopolites.

Ils commencent une phrase en arabe, la truffent de mots anglais et français, parlent avec les cheveux, les mains, les yeux…

Le soir de mon arrivée, j’ai dîné à la même table avec des Libanais de toutes familles: des chrétiens, des musulmans, des chiites, des sunnites, des maronites, des druzes, des catholiques, des orthodoxes, des riches, des pauvres, des bons vivants, des austères, des grands, des petits, et ils parlaient tous sans s’écharper.

De la Palestine et d’Israël, des USA et de l’Arabie Saoudite et pas une minute, ils n’en sont venus aux mains! J’imaginais le même dîner en France…

Je suis allée avec Dédy à Saïda visiter un vieux palais, le palais Debbané, niché en plein souk, une ancienne maison familiale où une pièce entière est dévolue à de gigantesques volières disposées de chaque coté et j’ai imaginé des concerts d’oiseaux en stéréo!

Nous avons visité le musée du savon Audi, toujours dans le souk, une résidence magnifique où l’on déroule pour vous toute l’histoire de la fabrication du savon… et un caravansérail, construit par des Français au moment des Croisades.

Sur la terrasse d’un restaurant face au Château des Croisés qui s’avance dans la mer, j’ai pensé à Joséphine et au XII ème siècle! Elle me racontait des histoires de Croisés qui ont fait souche, de Croisés qui ont péri, de Croisés qui ont pillé, de Croisés qui ont construit et je l’écoutais, ébahie. Toutes les notes que j’avais prises pour les recherches de Joséphine revenaient et se mélangeaient aux images de Saïda et de la forteresse…

Au retour, nous nous sommes arrêtés dans une orangeraie et une femme a pressé des oranges, des pamplemousses, des mandarines et des citrons rien que pour nous. Il y avait des jouets d’enfants répandus sous une tonnelle, du linge qui séchait, des figues ventrues, un vieux jardinier, des arbres ployaient sous les fruits, des rigoles irriguaient le pied des arbres… Le temps s’est arrêté. On se parlait avec les mains, avec les yeux et c’était délicieux…

Vous avez compris, j’ai aimé le Liban. Beaucoup, beaucoup. C’est un pays de lumière où la vie pétille et chante… une belle leçon de courage et de bonne humeur!

Note: You are a visitor Katheirne and from a western country to boot it. Don’t be fouled by the sincerity and welcoming attitudes.

In any case, you didn’t stay long enough to discover Lebanon and the people on your own. The Lebanese have changed for the worst in all aspects.




February 2016

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