Palestinian film among three banned at Lebanese film festival

Palestinian film among three banned at Lebanese film festival
Three films have been banned from screening at Beirut's film festival over political concerns.
2 min read
06 Oct, 2016
Despite its relative openness, Lebanon occasionally censors art over religious and political sensitivities [AFP]

Lebanon has banned the screening of a Palestinian film at the International Beirut Film Festival opening on Wednesday, with organisers saying the film was produced by an Israeli company.

Tarek Halabi, head of audiovisual at Lebanon's General Security agency, said that by screening Palestinian filmmaker Maha Haj's Personal Affairs the organisers would be contravening Lebanon's boycott of Israeli products.

"Whether artistic or not" Halabi said that the film was made by an Israeli production house and shot in the Jewish state and had to be banned.

Along with Haj's film World Cup by Syrian brothers Mohamad and Ahmad Malas was also censored.

As was Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf's The Nights of Zayandeh-Rood, festival director Colette Naufal said.

Authorities had demanded that a scene be removed from the Syrian film, however the festival organisers refused to comply, Naufal explained.

According to Halabi, the film contains scens that were deemed "insulting to Lebanese personalities and parties were removed".

The Nights of Zayandeh-Rood said the film showed "certain elements concerning Iran" which infringed Lebanese laws that "forbid meddling in Iranian affairs".

Iran is a major backer of Lebanon's Shia militant group Hizballah and exerts a degree of influence in the country's politics.

While Lebanon is considered one of the most liberal of the Arab states, censorship of arts is sometimes enforced due to concerns about sexual content and religious sensitivities.

"It's unfortunate that political considerations interfere in arts and culture," Naufal said, adding the cinematic event was striving to be "a platform for freedom of expression".