BEIRUT: As the Qana massacre, committed by the Israeli army, was reaching an end in 1996, a journalist went back home carrying an envelope, which contained photos of martyred children and their parents.
Her inquisitive 7-year-old brother was determined to find the envelope every day; however, she successfully managed to hide from him in a cupboard.
He never grew tired of his daily search, until his sister threw the envelope away.
During the post-war period, his mother used to buy him DVDs and documentaries to watch at home, in South Lebanon, where satellite dishes were very rare to find at that time.
He used to watch films directed by May Masri, Jean Chamoun, and Randa Chahal, on a daily basis.
Diana Moukalled’s voice, which he kept listening to on the local Future TV channel in the 90s, left a mark in his memory.
“Moukalled is under appreciated, because TV films are not so trendy,” says the little boy, who grew up to become the well known Adeeb Farhat, one of the most renowned filmmakers in the region, and an owner of the production company “The Media Booth.”
A child is man’s father, Swiss psychologist Carl Jung says, which is the case with Farhat, whose childhood dreams gave birth to the man he is today.
Choosing to major in filming was “automatic” for 28-year-old Farhat, since he loves films. After graduating with a BA in Radio/TV and Film in 2012, he entered the field.
He established “The Media Booth,” his production company in 2011; and until now, he has worked on 55 TV documentaries, short films and reports, some of which he worked on as a Director of Photography (DOP).
CINEMA FOR ALL
In 2014, he started a project out of jealousy from a country, which is rich in cinema clubs. Farhat was in Tunisia, working on a film for Oxfam, when he sent the “Tunisian Cinema Club” a message on Facebook, telling them he would like to get to know them out of curiosity.
His jealousy was not the destructive, but rather the constructive kind.
After discovering how there are cinema clubs in every area in Tunisia, Farhat started the “Lebanese Cinema Club,” along with his friend Mohammad al Hajj, who was majoring in Public Relations.
The cinema club aims to provide cinema for all people, and to put the audience in contact with directors, in order to ask them any question they have in mind, “especially that both the audience and filmmakers don’t always have the chance to hear each other’s feedback,” Farhat says.
The Club mainly targets two audiences: the cinema lovers who would want to watch for free, and those who would pay to watch it in movie theaters but would also like to have a discussion with the filmmakers.
“Guardians of Lost time” by Diala Kachmar was the first movie the club screened at Metropolis Sofil Theater. Kachmar was very supportive, Farhat says, adding: “we formed a group of 30 people to encourage the director, and it went really well.”
“Mercedes,” however, was the second film they screened. The director Hady Zaccak, is seen as “a reference for the Lebanese Cinema Club regarding anything we need to know about films,” Farhat says, adding that “he was fascinating and the discussion around his film was great.”
This year, the club watched “Go Home” by Jihan Choeib, “Ya Omri” by Hady Zaccak, and “From Heaven” by Wissam Charaf.
Space and time however, are basic challenges that the cinema club faces.
Farhat explains. “People would stick to one place only if it was available,” the filmmaker mentions adding that “instead of screening movies in Ashkal Alwan, and then the next week in UMAM, ALT CITY (which has closed), or any other place, the audience will get used to one place for screening.”
The choice of the screening places is made according to the mutual point between them; they all have a cultural and artistic vibe.
Opinion is subjective, and Farhat made sure to mention that in favor of Lebanese cinema and not against it; “there isn’t a good film or a bad film, since even bad films have a specific audience that would like them,” he said.
NAB CREATIVE SPACE
Currently, the young filmmaker is finalizing his newest project “Nab Creative Space” in Nabatiyeh, South Lebanon.
The space will include a film library, a human rights defenders library, and a music library. “I want Nabatiyeh to be rich in culture,” he says.
Farhat prefers not to speak about his future plans, but more growth in his businesses is surely on the horizon. “I will be working on enhancing several aspects in my work, by focusing on the research, technical, and artistic content,” he mentions.
Some of his clients are the Lebanese Transparency Association (LTA), ICRC, UNHCR, and ABAAD. And, according to him, trust and honesty are the ethics of his job, which attracts such prominent clients toward him.
Farhat recalls “One of the best interviews he filmed was for Swiss leaks’ report along with the investigative journalist Riad Koubeissy,” as his achievements rang the bell of his memory, in addition to filming Paris Fashion Week, and Tal Zaatar camp with Al-Jazeera TV, which was filmed along with Mohannad Salhat and Ayed Nabaa.
COLLECTOR/DOCUMENTOR AT HEART
As he speaks about his passion for movies, Farhat’s office walls concretize his every word.
On one wall, a poster reads “An epic drama of adventure and exploration;” it is no other than Stanley Kubrick’s “A Space Odyssey,” which hangs next to Alfred Hitchcock’s movie “Psycho” and Stanley Kubrick’s “Clockwork Orange.”
Vinyl records adorn his office with a classic and simple aesthetic, quite reflective of his personality. Some of his favorite singers are from the Golden Age, and “El Sitt Um Kulthoum” is an absolute favorite of his.
His eclectic field of interest doesn’t end there, Farhat is also a collector.
He owns more than 150 vintage and modern cameras at home, and showcases others ones at “The Media Booth.”
Some of his favorite things in the office, are a picture of his mum, a frame including a photo of his nephew’s birthday, and his collected cameras.
He is currently working on his first movie, which he refuses to talk about and prefers to keep as a surprise, while miniature statues of Marilyn Monroe, Pharaoh, and some filming gadgets sit around him.
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