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French Version

Lebanese film industry to pitch its tent in Cannes

For the first time an Arab country will occupy a pavilion at the international festival

In a first for Lebanon and the Lebanese film industry, May 2005 will see the country pitch its own tent in the International Village at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

In an announcement to be made on Thursday at the Tourism Ministry in Beirut, the Lebanese Cinema Foundation will ask for anyone in the local industry from filmmakers to distributors to technical staff to participate in the tent with the aim of promoting local film.

In recent years Lebanese movies have spread around the globe, been featured at international festivals, and won numerous awards.

From "The Kite" by Randa Chahal-Sabbag, which won the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 2003, to Danielle Arbid's "In The Battlefields," which appeared in the Director's Fortnight selection at Cannes in 2004, Lebanese movies have been steadily grinding out a reputation on the international scene.

But very few of these films have benefited from efficient local support in Lebanon, and few Lebanese filmmakers, editors, producers or actors get a chance to meet international players and promote their talent and skills and the local industry here.

The Lebanese Cinema Foundation aims to change all this.

Founded in 2003 by Aimee Boulos, its president, the foundation has worked hard over the last two years to facilitate local movie-making; from organizing workshops to locating funding. In December 2003 it presented Lebanese film in Spain during Barcelona's "Le-banon Week."

On Thursday, the foundation will further act as a catalyst and support for Lebanese film, when it announces the Lebanese participation at Cannes International Village.

"This is the first time that Lebanon, or in fact any Arab country, takes a pavilion at the international village in Cannes," Boulos said on Monday.

"We felt that it was beyond time for Lebanon to be present at such an important and universal film festival. We are calling for anyone involved in Lebanese film to get involved and see how they can participate," she added.

The Cannes Festival lasts from May 11 - 23 and the tent will be there for the duration. The International Village is a place for global players in the film industry to meet and network with each other and to learn about other nations' film industries and talent.

Lebanese participation in the International Village has been a year in the making with Boulos and Gabriel Chamoun, the foundation's vice president, promoting Lebanon at Cannes in 2004. They have been able to do it this year in partnership with the Lebanese Tourism Ministry and their offices in Paris, as well as the Service of Cooperation and Cultural Action of the French Embassy. Other sponsors will be announced on Thursday. - R.S.

For further information on the Lebanese Cinema Foundation and details on how to participate at the Lebanese tent in Cannes call +961 4 533040.

Beirut,04 11 2005
The Daily Star
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