Naya: Beirut International Women Film Festival: Lights, camera, female empowerment

The Beirut International Female Festival has now become an annual event, this year being its second year, screening more than 50 films selected internationally, and seven Lebanese short films all revolving around issues women face in their day to day life
by Chiri Choukeir

13 March 2019 | 21:12

Source: by Annahar

  • by Chiri Choukeir
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 13 March 2019 | 21:12

Director Sam Lahoud, Board of Trustees Mona Farid Al Khazen, Poet Soheil Matar, Actress Wafaa Tarabay, Miss Lebanon 2018 Maya Reaidy. (Annahar)

BEIRUT: The Beirut International Women Film Festival kicked off with the title “Women for Change” at its opening earlier this week at the Casino Du Liban honoring Lebanese renowned actress Wafaa Tarabay.

The Beirut International Female Festival has now become an annual event, this year being its second year, screening more than 50 films selected internationally, and seven Lebanese short films all revolving around issues women face in their day to day life. In addition to 17 international and local films included as part of Beirut International Children and Family Film Festival

At the official opening of the festival, the main woman of the hour was Wafaa Tarabay, a renowned Lebanese actress with a repertoire of more than 200 works including theatre plays, TV series, and films.

The opening started with a live performance by Lebanese singer, musician, sociologist, TV presenter, and scriptwriter Layal Nehme and piano works of George Assiss, moving on to speeches and honoring from Sam Lahoud, director and founder of Beirut International Women and Family and Children Film Festival, Mona Farid El Khazen, President and board of trustees at Beirut International Women and Family and Children Film Festival, poet Soheil Matar, and current Miss Lebanon, Maya Reaidy.

The majority of films at the festival were directed by female directors which are barely represented in the film direction and composting industry by a small amount of twenty-seven percent and the ratio of one female director to five male directors according to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film.

“We had over 700 submissions from over 95 countries, and that’s only counting online submissions.” Lahoud told Annahar, “ We faced many challenges creating this festival, but the main two challenges we found were the lack of funding cultural events go through in Lebanon and the bad habit of Lebanese audiences to watch the commercial, badly advertised movies. Theatre, cinema, and good films are not very welcomed at our modern culture.”

The screening of the movies selected both internationally and Lebanese will be at the Grand Cinema- ABC Dbaye from Monday, March 11, 2019, till Friday, March 15, 2019. The festival will include a special program title “Girls for Change” on Wednesday, March 13, and a panel discussion under the title “Women in Cinema, An Everyday Challenge” on Thursday, March 14, 2019.

The movies selected will be judged by an all-female jury team composed from Julia Kassar, president of juries and head of feature films, and the feature film jury: Nada Abou Farhat, Lara Saba, Elaheh Nobakht. Malak Dahmouni, head of feature documentary jury, along with Zeina Daccache, and Myriam Hage. Feyrouz Serhal, head of short films jury, along with Manon Namour and Dania Bdeir.

“I think the festival highlights and puts the spotlight on Arabic and international women just to show how great they think about life matters, and how they deal with social problems.” Lebanese actress Nada Abou Farhat, told Annahar. “I have watched all the featured films, and they’re all great on an excellence level, and I’m so excited to see the short films which will be screening.”

But perhaps the most interesting program of the festival is the Girl for Change special program, which is an initiative created and developed by Beirut Film Society to train Lebanese and Syrian girls between 14 and 17 years old living in the most vulnerable areas in Lebanon (Wadi Khaled, Chtaura, Nabatiyye, and Burj Hammoud) on how to use audio-visual and film to seek change and express themselves.

The training program is supported by UNICEF, in partnership with the Ministry of Displaced Affairs and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, and funded by Government of the United States. With 100 participants resulting in 13 short films written and directed by the girls under the supervision of BFS team of trainers.

The festival will come to an end on Friday, March 15th, with screenings and the final awards distribution.

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Welcome to “Naya,” the newest addition to Annahar’s coverage. This section aims at fortifying Lebanese women’s voices by highlighting their talents, challenges, innovations, and women’s empowerment. We will also be reporting on the world of work, family, style, health, and culture. Naya is devoted to women of all generations-Naya Editor, Sally Farhat: Sally.farhat17@gmail.com

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