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The Insult directed by Ziad Doueiri: A high dose of hope … a quest for justice and dignity

September 6, 2017
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The Insult directed by Ziad Doueiri: A high dose of hope … a quest for justice and dignity

The Insult, directed by the Lebanese filmmaker Ziad Doueiri will start showing on September 14 in the Lebanese cinema theaters, casting an elite of Lebanese actors, among whom Adel Karam, Rita Hayek, Camille Salame, Diamant Abou Abboud, in addition to Julia Kassar, Talal Al Jurdi, Refaat Torbey, Carlos Chahine and Christine Choueiry, as well as the Palestinian actor, Kamel Al Basha,

The movie’s action takes place in today’s Beirut, where an insult blown out of proportions finds Tony, a Lebanese Christian, and Yasser, a Palestinian refugee, in court. From secret wounds to traumatic revelations, the media circus surrounding the case puts Lebanon through a social explosion, forcing Tony and Yasser to reconsider their lives and prejudices.

Ziad Doueiri drew his inspiration to write the scenario with Joelle Touma from a minor incident he has witnessed a few years ago. He says, in this regard: “It is true that the topic expresses our view to the society, but the real objective is to narrate the story (…).For me, I am still among those who believe that the objective of any movie is to relate a story, not only to express a position or a political stance. It is the story of the characters of the movie.” He adds: “In my movie, I raise issues technically and dramatically, not on the socio-political level. But there is no doubt that the socio-political dimensions interact with the drama dimension, as it is the case of our Lebanese society. The story of this film is not unusual to this society. Our past has undoubtedly left a deep impact.”

Doueiri insists that the movie “contains a high dose of hope and positive feelings” and “raises the issue of justice. At the end, what Tony and Yasser are calling for is justice, which is a significant and absolute concept. Calling for justice is also calling for dignity.”

Doueiri does not deny that his movie “may stir some controversy. The film does not raise an issue that is well set in advance, but an issue which pushes to think.” However, he says: “What is important to me is that people watch the movie. If the film produces discussions, then that’s good. The people have the right to like it or to dislike it. As it is the case in my movies, some will like it. Others get offended, others may raise questions. This is part of the responsibility of the director, since he has to accept all opinions and to be open to them.”

He continues: “Joelle and I have written what we both wanted to say. We cannot self-censor ourselves in advance. It is impossible to amputate the story before it sees the light just because it is politically sensitive. Some people behave in such a way. Not me. I just say what I have to say and then expect the outcome.” He considers that “what needs to be discussed in any movie is the structure of the story, whatever the topic is. In my opinion, the most important thing is how we narrate the story.”

 

The Insult is considered to be the first Lebanese court movie. Doueiri says, in this regard: “Courtroom drama brings together conflicting parties into one room where a confrontation happens (…).There is an intense drama happening directly. And it’s appropriate for the story I am narrating.”

Doueiri reveals that he did the casting for 400 and 500 actors before choosing the actors for whom the roles were attributed. He says in this regard: “The experience was excellent and I grew attached to the performance of the actors playing roles in the movie. I have noted their talent and their level of professionalism. I have also noticed an excellent energy among the Lebanese actors. However, they may sometimes lack a good scenario or good management. Those with whom I have worked were thirsty for work and have given me 110% of their efforts. I estimate that this was the most beautiful experience I have witnessed and that I wish to repeat.”

 

Adel Karam

 

The actor Adel Karam plays the role of Tony Hanna. According to Adel Karam, playing the main role in this movie represents “a quantum leap” which will shed the light on his potential as “a drama actor, not only as a comedian”. Adel Karam says: “A long time has elapsed during which we haven’t seen a movie of such a caliber and of such a level of perfection. It is very sensitive and will thus stir a controversy among the public, which I hope will be positive, since it calls things by their names.” Being familiar with the role of Tony since he was born in Fassouh region, in Ashrafieh, he adds: “I assume that most of the people who will watch the movie will take out the lessons from our history, particularly those who look like Tony and Yasser.” He continues: “The movie is similar to an alarm bell to wake up or become aware of the reality we live in.” According to Adel Karam, “some of those who look like Tony may sympathize with Yasser, and vice versa.”

 

Kamel El Bacha

The Palestinian actor, Kamal El Bacha, also expects “the movie to stir a large-scale controversy regarding the nature of the Lebanese-Palestinian relationship in general.” He sees that “some will attack the movie under the pretext that it is not being fair towards the Palestinian cause while others will attack it under the pretext that it is biased in favor of the Palestinians. But, at the end, it provokes each and everyone and will push them to think and analyze.” Kamal El Bacha, starring as Yasser Salameh, says: “I haven’t witnessed Palestinians’ experience in Lebanon. I was born in Jerusalem where I live and work as an actor since 1987. My experience in playing different roles throughout the years has undoubtedly helped me, but does not remain the only source I have relied on to perform the role of Yasser Salameh. On the humanitarian level in the everyday life of people, I live like Palestinians live in Lebanon and feel like they feel.”

 

Rita Hayek

As for the actress Rita Hayek, who has an experience in theater and television, she confirms that she is “attached to all the aspects of the movie”, where she is playing her first role in cinema. She adds: “Every person without any exception has given from the bottom of his heart and has given the best he has.” She adds: “The energy Ziad Doueiri has is contagious to the extent that the actor in front of him cannot but give all that he has and go beyond his limits and his potential. He knows very well what he needs, but at the same time, communicates with the actor to form with him a sort of dancing duo according to which he adapts the movie. At the same time, he is very self-confident and trusts the actors on the cast. This trust is also a motivation for each and everyone to go beyond his capacities in acting.” Rita Hayek, starring as Shirine, Tony’s wife, continues: “It was the first time that I work with Adel Karam. There was a sort of chemistry between us which emerged from the first scene on the filming stage and that everyone felt, since we really seemed as if we were Shirine and Tony and have been married for years.”

 

Camille Salameh

Camille Salameh considers that “any art work that provokes a debate and stirs in the mind of the spectator ideas that prevent him from forgetting what he has watched is successful.” He adds: “This is what I look forward to regarding this movie.” Camille Salameh, starring as Wajdi Wehbeh, Tony’s Lawyer, adds: “When I first started to get attached to cinema as a spectator, I used to be attracted by movies about prosecutions (…). The character of Wajdi Wehbeh in the movie is attractive to any actor who knows where the pleasure of challenges lies.” He describes Ziad Doueiri as “a special case, a contagious virus filled with passion and enthusiasm who endeavors to achieve the best out of the best.” He continues: “The actors worked with full professionalism based on the conviction that the success of one person stems from that of the team.”

 

Diamant Abou Abboud

The actress Diamant Abou Abboud, starring as Nadine, Yasser’s Lawyer, sees that “The Insult is not just a movie, but a movie that will impact every spectator”. She expects that “this movie will arouse the interest of the Lebanese spectator in a different way according to the background of each and everyone. But everyone will identify himself to it in a way or in another and will interact with it.” She adds: “In my opinion, the joint conclusion we should all reach is that we are equal as humans.” She highly appreciates “the interest Ziad Doueiri expresses for each character. Indeed, he gives every character his right, gets worried with the actor, builds with him and puts him on the right track. Since he is the screenwriter with Joelle Touma, he knows every single character, from A to Z, with every detail in the text and every word … even every silent when it should prevail … he knows the dynamism of the character and how to help the actor to reach it.”

 

Julia Kassar

The actress Julia Kassar, starring as Judge Colette Mansour, sees that “the movie will give some food for thought to the Lebanese audience. The movie’s characters face each other and fight with each other. Whoever watches the movie will think in a pleasant way and will let the idea mature in his mind.” She notes that “the text is written in an excellent and passionate way, with a surprise at every single minute. These elements of excitement coupled with well-known names playing the characters constitute very positive factors in this movie.” She adds: “My role in this movie is different from those I have previously played. Moreover, the topic of the movie is of interest to all of us”. She notes that “the Director Ziad is a dynamo that diffuses energy in his surrounding, like a striking electrical current. I think that the result of the movie will be as such.”

 

Talal El Jurdi,

The actor Talal El Jurdi, starring as Talal, head of Entrepreneur, says: “Through the role I am playing, the spectator understands the logic behind the two main lines in the movie, i.e. Tony and Yasser, and discovers how much these two lines are divergent, although the problem does not deserve much and how history and events marked both men.” He adds: “There is no doubt that the movie will stir a debate and the public will be divided into two camps and the position that will be taken by each spectator highly depends on his background and his ideas; the instinct and feeling will have a role to play in setting the final impression.”

 

Christine Choueiri

The actress, Christine Choueiri, starring as Manal, Yasser’s wife, expects “a debate among the spectators regarding the topic of the movie, which may start among the Lebanese people for tackling this topic today.” He continues: “In fact, this issue hasn’t been dealt with before in the cinema while it is an issue to be dealt with and revealed to the public. I think that the spectators will be excited to hear about this topic which arouses their curiosity at the same time.”

Refaat Torbey

The actor Refaat Torbey, starring as LF leader Samir Geagea, says: “I haven’t tried to imitate Dr. Samir Geagea in my performance of his character. I haven’t even tried to look like him with the make-up, but I played the role as I am and I have played the character as it should have been played. Therefore, there is no need to compare my performance with the real performance of Dr. Geagea.” He adds: “I have taken his words and have given them a dramatic dimension, making people interact with them. I stood up in one of both scenes before an audience, not an audience of actors, but an audience of Batroun Lebanese Forces members, who came to Meerab to participate in a ceremony during which I have delivered a speech. The audience then interacted with the speech, although I have delivered it in my way.”

The Fourth Movie

It is noteworthy that The Insult is the fourth feature movie directed by Doueiri, following West Beirut (1998), “Lila says” (2004), and “The Attack” (2012).

He also directed the TV series Sleeper Cell for Showtime Network in 2005 and Baron Noir (2016) for Canal Plus. He’s currently shooting season 2 of Baron Noir.

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