It has been more than 20 years since my first film about Lebanon was released. I’ve returned to Lebanon on many occasions since and have had the great joy of sharing “MY” Lebanon with my three children. On our last trip in 2015, I was captivated by the transformations that I saw across the country, but most particularly in the Downtown areas of the capital, Beirut. Having known it at the height of war and remembering the crumbling, bullet-riddled facades of the old European-style architecture that dominated the city streets and skyline in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I was overwhelmed by the magnificence of the restorations as I wondered down streets and boulevards that rivalled some of the finest of Paris, Prague, and Palermo.
Similarly, in the sleepy villages in the mountains of Lebanon, with their cobblestone streets and old stone homes dating hundreds and hundreds of years, the children saw a side to this country and its historical beginnings that they never expected. As we wandered past old men sitting on stools playing backgammon and smoking the Shisha, and elderly women dressed in black, still mourning loved ones that had passed, we sensed the tradition, religion and humility that still pervades the culture.
The beach resorts and the nightclubs were pumping as loud and vibrantly as anything the west could offer but with a level of glamour and sophistication not often seen in the clubs of Sydney, London, Paris or New York _ which left me quite bemused at how, in spite of the challenge of having to overcome a chequered, recent past marred by blood, war and devastation _ or was it as a result of it _ the Lebanese girls, guys, ladies and men of all ages and social status, strived and hungered for the highest standards in fashion, beauty and luxury.
All this made me wonder whether the time had come to revisit this story and take a deep dive into Lebanon’s passage over the past two decades to examine how far it had truly come and what is it about the Lebanese that makes them refuse to just roll over and die, despite the turmoil that is ever present around them.
So, imbued with the same passion and search for truth that epitomised my first film, this new expose will explore the changes that have taken place over the last 20 years and dissect the risks facing this tiny haven from Islamic fundamentalism in the form of ISIS, the influx of millions of Syrian refugees, and the perpetual Middle East Peace Crisis that threatens the tenuous peace on a daily basis.
Today Lebanon sits on the precipice of an unclear future even more than at any time in its history. There is a chance for it to carve out a bright, new future steered by a younger guard who are beginning to rise and raise their voices…OR would it continue to sit in a useless, mindless limbo of ineffectual inactivity as has been witnessed over the past three years…I’m wishing that my new research will unveil a new breed of Lebanese who are willing to step up to the batting plate and swing firm, fast and fearlessly, hitting the old systems and structures, that have held this oasis back for so long – right out of the ball park.
Join us as we discover together what the future looks like for this one tiny nation whose story resonates with every other nation or person questioning their future, direction, leaders, mentors, identity _ purpose.