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Shooting in Lebanon, Part II
A lack of state funding in Lebanon has stifled diversity in moviemaking, but plucky independent initiatives have borne some fruit. Part II.
October 15, 2009 9:44 by Nathalie Bontems
Potential private investors are not interested in financing movie ventures, or even in acting as patrons on a smaller scale. They deem the domestic market to be too small to be profitable. Their question, therefore, is whether Lebanese films can export themselves with success.
Lebanese feature films, costing $500,000 on average, often end up being funded by European cultural institutions and programs such as Euromed, a series of agreements between the European Union and Mediterranean countries. That two-year program granted Lebanese cinema nearly $22 million between 2006 and 2008, and provided writing workshops, meetings with foreign professionals, and projections in European theaters.
But only a certain number of films can be produced each year and many directors and writers are left out of the action. Between 2005 and 2006, five full-length features made it to the screens, but for the past few years production has lagged at a weak rate of one film a year. With 90 percent of the Lebanese production financed through channels like this, some sort of dependence is unavoidable.
The current financial backing by European institutions comes with a leash: Lebanese movies are expected to answer certain prerequisites in terms of themes and approaches. In short, stories have to discuss war and reflect on how society deals with its past. “War is always a good incentive when someone is looking for European funding,” says de Freige. “We need diversification.”