Venice: Lebanese film director, Mona Akl, says that her first movie (Costa Brava, Lebanon) became an act of resistance and a way to survive when the horrific Beirut explosion occurred a day after she met the work team in the capital in preparation for the start of production.
Munia was already facing severe COVID-19 restrictions and a stifling financial crisis, but she chose to go ahead with the film’s production in the wake of the explosion that killed more than 200 people and devastated large parts of the capital.
“Lebanon is going through a very difficult period, and this film is a message of love to Beirut,” Mona, 32, told Reuters at the Venice Film Festival, which saw the film’s world premiere on Sunday.
“It is about the sorrows of a place that is no longer what it used to be, and about the question of whether you are going away or continuing the struggle for a place that seems no longer safe,” she said.
The film, which takes place in the context of an environmental and economic crisis, depicts the life of the Badri family, who moved to life in the mountains to escape the polluted air and other problems in Beirut. Isolated in this safe haven, the parents experience a sense of guilt for abandoning their roots in order to secure a future for their daughters. At that time, a garbage dump is suddenly set up in front of their house, and as the garbage piles up, tensions rise in the family.
The famous Lebanese director Nadine Labaki plays the role of the mother and the Palestinian actor Saleh Bakri plays the father. While the mother feels nostalgia for the old life, he feels bitterness and anger.
“Personally, I live almost like the Badri family with my family, we live in the mountains far from Beirut,” Nadine told Reuters. She continued, “I live the same conflict and the same contradiction, do we remain isolated and protect our family and children in this way, or do we go back and resist in some way and be part of the change and part of the resistance?”
Nadine, 47, says that showing the film at the Venice Film Festival as part of the Orizonte Extra section is very important.
“We are at the worst time in our history,” she said. So I think just being here now and doing the movie and being able to sort of smile and be happy with what we did is a miracle. It is a miracle by all accounts.”